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Nonfiction Writing > Academic Writing Tips > ChatGPT for Writers: How to Use AI in Your Writing

ChatGPT for Writers: How to Use AI in Your Writing

Freelance writers, authors and students can successfully use ChatGPT (a type of artificial intelligence or AI) to improve writing skills, find topic ideas to write about, and get published.

“How do you come up with article ideas now, with new forms of software? I have trouble thinking up ideas to pitch to magazines like Readers Digest,” says Mark on Want to Write for Reader’s Digest? 10 Things You Need to Know. “What about artificial intelligence platforms to generate writing ideas?”

Yes! Learning how to use artificial intelligence with integrity will help you get published in magazines as a freelance writer. No matter what type of writer you are, you can use AI to inform your writing, avoid plagiarism and be authentic by following the guidelines below.

I use ChatGPT in my job as a Writing Academic Strategist at a college that is learning how to use AI to educate students, instructors and staff. It’s challenging because we want students to learn how to write well without relying on AI, but we also want to teach them—students, instructors, staff—how to use AI to be more productive and efficient.

Can writers use ChatGPT to write without cheating or plagiarizing? Absolutely! In this post I’ll share how to use artificial intelligence in all types of writing: academic, freelance, personal and public. My goal is to give you specific tips for using ChatGPT with integrity and honesty.

7 Tips for Using ChatGPT or AI as a Writer

If you’re a freelance writer who wants to get published in a magazine, it’s not enough to know what types of magazine articles get published. If you’re an aspiring author who hopes to get published with a traditional publishing house, you need more than a good book idea, a catchy title or even a literary agent. 

ChatGPT for Writers: How to Use AI in Your Writing
How to Use Artificial Intelligence in Your Writing

These ChatGPT writing tips don’t just apply to freelance writers and authors. Are you a student with a writing assignment? You want to submit a well-written essay and pass English, but writing is hard for you. Here’s how to use AI to guide your writing while still upholding all standards of academic integrity.

1. Remember that ChatGPT is a tool for writing (not your writing twin)

 Artificial intelligence isn’t your personal writer clone, which means it can’t write for you. ChatGPT can help you write better by coming up with topic ideas, refining your content and correcting your grammar. It can’t, however, write your essay or create the perfect book outline, query letter or article so you get published.

ChatGPT is a tool for writing in the same way your laptop or pen is. Writers can use AI to generate content, refine ideas and even write better by correcting grammar and sentence structure, but it can’t do the hard work of actual writing.

If you rely on ChatGPT to write your magazine articles, essays or books then you aren’t a writer. You’re not even a content creator! Worse, you might be accused of plagiarism, labeled a cheater, and get kicked out of the writing world (or your school). If you’re a well-known or famous published author and your readers discover you rely on artificial intelligence to write books, you could be publicly humiliated.

2. Summarize, paraphrase and reword ChatGPT’s ideas

Never copy and paste paragraphs or even sentences that ChatGPT generates into your own essay, article or book chapter. Ask ChatGPT questions to help you formulate and refine ideas to write about. Then put those ideas into your own words, adding your own voice and style. It takes work to rephrase the answers created by artificial intelligence but it’s worth it.

The most important thing to remember as a writer using ChatGPT is that you have to be original in your work. Writing is a creative expression of who you are. Even if you’re writing a dry technical report, required academic essay or blog post on how to use artificial intelligence, you are being creative. Creativity demands you to be original and authentic, which means you can’t just copy and paste ChatGPT’s output into your own writing.

If you don’t know what it means to be original in your writing, read What is Writer’s Voice? The Key to Writing a Good Story.

3. “Own” the content by adding your perspective, expertise and ideas

Using ChatGPT to supplement your writing means you absolutely must change—and, indeed, own—its artificially generated content. How? By adding your unique perspective, thoughts, criticisms, analysis and insights. You might weave facts and data generated by artificial intelligence into your own writing (without copying and pasting!), but you can’t insert them into your article, book or essay. That is plagiarism.

AI is great at generating ideas to start your writing journey or supplement what you’ve already written. It’s not original, though. AI isn’t a substitute for your own unique writing voice and style. I say it again: ChatGPT is a tool writers can use to enhance the content, depth and focus of their work, but it is no substitute for actual writing.

4. Give credit where credit is due (cite your sources!)

As a Writing Academic Strategist at a college, I teach students how to create in-text citations and References pages to show where they found their information. This isn’t just to avoid plagiarism, it’s to give credit where credit is due. Researchers, writers and authors worked hard to create their studies, articles and books. If we quote their work or use their statistics, we have to attribute them as the source. 

Do you as a freelance writer use ChatGPT to find specific ideas, stats or facts for your research or the article itself? Make sure you credit the source properly by including a phrase such as “freelance writing tips created by ChatGPT.”

If you’re a college or university student who is giving credit to artificial intelligence for part of your work, use your institution or instructor’s chosen citation style guide. My college uses the APA style guide (American Psychological Association), but others might use MLA or Chicago.

5. Triple-check and verify all facts in your writing

Artificial intelligence is super smart and fast, but it’s not 100% correct all the time.  No matter what type of writing you do—freelance, book, student, blog—always double or even triple check the information you include in your work. 

In 11 Most Popular Types of Articles to Write for Magazines I describe how “research shorts” are a good way for freelance writers to get published in well-known magazines. Science or health facts must be verified before publication. So must personal and professional facts (a source’s birthdate or job title) and historical events (the date of the first issue of Writer’s Digest was published).

No matter what your magazine article, book chapter or school essay is about, do not rely solely on AI or ChatGPT for “facts.” Always double or triple check the information you put in any piece of your writing. 

6. Edit, revise and refine every sentence

What famous author said 95% of writing is rewriting? If you’re using artificial intelligence as a writer, then 100% of writing is rewriting. If I used ChatGPT to generate tips on how to use artificial intelligence in freelance writing, I wouldn’t just rewrite every tip. I’d change every word to make it original, add my own examples and delete everything ChatGPT generated 

Part of editing, revising and polishing is paying attention to the flow of your writing. Does one idea lead naturally to another? Do the tips in a list make sense? Have you let your article, chapter or essay sit for a day or two? That’s one of the best ways to edit your own writer, whether or not you use ChatGPT. Take a break from what you wrote. Revise and polish it later, after you’ve been away awhile. 

7. Find an editor or friend to read what you wrote

My final tip for using AI as a writer is to share your edited, polished work widely and freely. Ask for opinions. Does the writing sound like “you”? Every writer has a unique voice and style. The only way to develop yours is to write, write, write. This does not mean use AI to do your writing for you! If you want to be a writer, you must write.

When you share your work, be prepared for criticism. Not everyone will enjoy reading your words. Some people will disagree; others will be unhappy or even offended. Your job as a writer is to write what you believe true. That’s it. Oh yeah, and you have to pitch your article and book ideas, promote your work, network with writers and publishing insiders, and do your bookkeeping. 

Other than all that, your job as a writer is simply writing. 🙂

personality traits of writers
7 Most Common Personality Traits of Successful Writers

Are you shy about showing your work? Read The Most Important Personality Traits of Successful Writers and Authors.

Your comments and questions about using ChatGPT or other forms of artificial intelligence in your writing are welcome below. 

And remember: You don’t have to worry about plagiarism—whether you’re a published author, freelance writer or student who struggles to write—if you follow my tips for using AI in your writing.


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