Writing is valuable for its process, not its product.
Any teacher will tell you that the value of the essay isn't the essay itself but the discipline of thought that it trains in the student.
“Perhaps this is the main value of a habit of writing, keeping a journal… Having by chance recorded a few disconnected thoughts and then brought them into juxtaposition, they suggest a whole new field in which it was possible to labor and to think. Thought begat thought.”
Henry David Thoreau, 34 January 22, 1852
There's a lot of fuss about AI and ChatGPT these days. Questions like:
- Is it right for students to write essays using AI?
- Should writers charge for ChatGPT-written content?
- Will ChatGPT replace professional writing?
- Can professional writers coexist with ChatGPT?
As a professional writer myself, it may be assumed that I'm firmly against AI writing tools, but that's not the case. I think that AI writing tools will evolve to handle the brunt of writing, but that professional writers must also evolve to care more about what they produce. We can also start investing time in learning how to “prompt” AI tools to deliver better answers than the average users because we have the trained eye of an expert.
I also think there's inherent value in the process of writing — often more than the product of writing. Any teacher will tell you that the value of the essay isn't the essay itself but the discipline of thought that it trains in the student.
While I'm all for efficiency, we can't succumb to the temptation to always rush toward a result without also making room for appreciating the process. As AI tools continue to create and shape aspects of our world like music, art, and writing, it's more imperative that we stay true to our humanity. That means taking the scenic route sometimes, not just looking for the fastest possible route to our destination.