Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesdays, where I post (you guessed it) tips on writing every Wednesday at 5:00 PM ET. This week’s topic:
Maybe you haven’t heard, but there are people out there writing books now. And by people, I mean robots. And by robots, I mean A.I.
The future is here, folks. Artificial intelligence programs are writing short novels which are being entered into contests, like the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award, which relatively recently opened up its metaphorical doors to non-human contestants. (Read more from this article: A Japanese AI program just wrote a short novel, and it almost won a literary prize by Chloe Olewitz.)
With things such as artificial intelligence programs competing, and competing successfully, with humans in the artistic field of writing, how can one ever hope to keep up? Aren’t computers just better than us?
First, I would like to remind you that you, unlike the A.I, are not necessarily writing for the masses. You are unique and so is your niche.
Secondly, I would like to remind you that we, as a species, are developing unrealistic expectations not only for our employees, but for our fellow man. This meaning, for example, the trend that we are often seeing about having to be able to handle a high-stress job in almost every search for one, or seeing wishes for the ultimate multi-tasking employee—one who can not only do social media, but who can also answer phones, make copies, and balance an elephant on their head while riding a tricycle on top of the London Eye.
Is this possible? Companies like UPS, for example, demand employees’ moves to be recorded: when their door opens, how often they’re backing up, etc. seem to think it is. (Read more here.)
But what about us, as writers? What does all of this mean? We can’t all crank out 10,000 words a day, or even 1,000, or even 500. Depending on what we do with the rest of our day has to and will factor into our output.
So here’s the thing:
In a world where we are being pushed to act like robots, it is our job to remember that we are human.
The reality is that it can’t all be your best work—let me rephrase that:
It can’t always be perfect work. You are human, you are flawed, and beautifully so. That’s what gives the world great novels. That’s what gives the world powerful novels.
Because at the end of the day, what books are kids going to remember? What short novels will they remember? The Chronicles of Narnia? Or a short story that won a literary prize, being praised for its ability to play into the social and political beliefs of the time?
There will always be a place for you.
Let me say that again.
There will always be a place for you.
You may only get out 50 words one day, but you know what? That’s 50 words you didn’t have yesterday. They may not be the perfect words. They may be horrible. They may be ugly. You may have to edit them—and that’s great. Because sticking with it and working through the mess, when you have this beautiful, imperfect document that eventually becomes a beautiful, imperfect book read by beautiful, imperfect people? That’s when your imperfection is perfect. When it is unabashedly so. Because, I believe, like life, it is when we are most open about our imperfections that we can serve others, and are truly the best we can be—and that. That is what is perfect.
So don’t worry about an A.I. taking away (or taking over) the novel field. Don’t worry about having to put forth perfection every time you sit down to write. Leave that at the door. When you sit down to write, you give it your best, no matter how beautifully imperfect it is, and hopefully, unlike a computer, you will have peace.
You can also find Alyssa on Twitter: @alyssagracem
Use #writetipwed for all Writing Tip Wednesday posts