Artificial intelligence (AI) is pervading all aspects of our life with technical buzzwords like neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), deep learning, and machine learning. The scope of AI is not limited to virtual help, analysis, translations, or content moderation. Bots can write and edit and have produced fiction and poetry, as a quick Google search will reveal. They can produce structured sentences and use formats, templates, and an impressive vocabulary.
Most publishing houses and organizations that produce documentation, such as information technology, manufacturing, science, and medical writing, have invested in editorial tools, grammar and plagiarism checkers, synopsis, and heading generators. Writers and editors around the globe ask questions on investments related to popular editing tools, such as Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, Ginger, or ProWritingAid. Black Friday and other seasonal sales and coupons lure writers to adopt these tools for a flawless writing experience.
The keyword here is “flawless.” Correct spellings, punctuation, and adherence to basic rules of high school grammar are characteristics of flawless writing. If you add a style guide to your algorithm-based editing software, you can control the above and the terminology and tone. All these are the mechanics and important professional aspects of good writing. However, good writing is more than mechanics.
Writing is an emotional activity expressed in words. Meaningful writing has to be uninhibited and creative. It should touch the heart and the soul. Rules, such as no passive voice, or less than 10 words in a sentence, as advocated by these tools, constrict the writing flow. These tools do not have souls. Creativity comes alive the moment a writer’s pen touches paper or fingers hit the keyboard.
Storytelling is not limited to humans; a bot can also narrate a story. However, poetry and storing writing are purely human exercises. A writing or editing tool can only complement a writer or an editor’s work by eliminating errors. It cannot provide finesse and feel to a written piece. AI is smart, but is it creative and artistic? It can produce the perfect rhyme scheme or haiku, but will it evoke sentiments or intrude on the heart and mind? It can generate a perfectly worded short active voice sentence, but will the conversation touch the soul?
Nuances, context, tone, authenticity, the perfect synonym, the location and background setting, emotions, empathy, and the perfect human conversations are best done by humans and not algorithms. Imagination, the forerunner of any form of creativity, is definitely not the selling point of any bot. No algorithms can replace emotions.
As a writer and editor, I use editing tools both at work and for my personal creative pursuits. I am grateful for the spell check and the fixing of the truant comma. I have installed the Grammarly keyboard on my mobile as well. It has drastically reduced typos in my mobile text interactions and that is quite a relief. I do not have to panic-delete tweets, my emails are spell-checked, and social media content does not carry embarrassing errors.
However, in my creative writing pieces, I ignore quite a few editorial suggestions by these tools. Passive voice elimination and adverb removal warnings are common peeves of these tools. Some suggestions change the feel and flow of the text. Creative writing is an increasingly experimental field. Editing tools are not a mirror of how we should write, but they supplement the writing exercise. Depending on these tools can make us lose our writing voice and even weaken creative expertise. We may get sidetracked by the need to write perfectly rather than emote effectively.
I recommend these tools for new writers and for those who want to improve the mechanics of language. For writers and editors comfortable with their writing styles and also with experimenting, I have a tip. First write, then edit, and only after you are confident that this is how your content should be, run it through the edit checker of your choice. Do it carefully. Read each suggestion and accept only those that resonate with you. Do not blindly change the sentence structure or replace words. Ponder on suggestions related to verbosity or word choices. Make informed decisions based on the audience and intent of your writing.
Remember, you are working with a tool. After you complete your edits using the tool, step back and revise your work. An editing tool has sometimes left me with incomplete and nonsensical sentences. A tool is not infallible; neither is your writing or editing skill. Team up with a tool but in no way let it rule. You are the best judge of your written voice. Wield your superpower!
Disclaimer: Any opinion expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not reflect the views of WriteFluence.in. Any omissions or errors are the author’s and WriteFluence does not assume any liability or responsibility for them.