How Artificial Intelligence Made Me A Better Writer

Rather than take our jobs, AI will help us get better.

Alex Kantrowitz
OneZero
Published in
5 min readJul 30, 2021

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Photo by Aideal Hwa on Unsplash

When I tell people artificial intelligence made me a better writer, they almost always give me a weird look.

“How could AI help you?” they ask. They assume AI technology is still far off, not with us today. And even if AI tech is decent now, there’s no way it could help someone who writes for a living, right? Nope, wrong.

Over the past two years, I’ve adopted AI software at every opportunity and can report that the productivity gain is absurd. AI has helped me cut down on menial work and spend more time on creativity, realizing a long-prophesied promise about the technology. It’s also teaching me to write tighter and with more precision, and it’s shockingly good in this regard. Some “experts” say AI will replace writers. That’s far off. Instead, it will make us better.

As an independent writer, my copy must be flawless. My writing can’t have errors, or my readers will lose trust (I pray to god there are none in this story). It also can’t meander, or readers will tune out. To address this, I use Grammarly, an AI software tool that catches style errors and teaches me how to correct them.

Grammarly’s helped me fix several embarrassing tendencies that once made my writing sloppy. It’s helped me spot repeated and missing words, cut down on wordiness (“several” above used to be “a number of”), and, crucially, it’s helped me write in active voice vs. passive voice.

I read up on active vs. passive voice maybe a thousand times earlier in my career, but I never quite grasped the difference. I’m not quite sure why. But Grammarly helped me figure it out. The software’s AI picks out when you use the passive voice and highlights the mistake to show you where you went wrong. Then you can correct it. By repeating this countless times, I finally started to understand what active voice is. Now, I write with it instinctually.

Screenshot from Grammarly

Timo Mertens, Grammarly’s head of machine learning, told me that the company’s AI technology treats our writing as if it’s a…

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Alex Kantrowitz
OneZero

Veteran journalist covering Big Tech and society. Subscribe to my newsletter here: https://bigtechnology.substack.com.