How to write better than AI

Nick Harland
December 2023
how to write better than AI

By thinking about what AI CAN'T do, you can produce unique content that people instantly recognise as human. Here's how to do it.

Do thorough research (and list your sources)

One of the biggest limitations of AI/ChatGPT is the erm, questionable facts it sometimes spits out. And when I say questionable, I mean wrong. Take this interaction I had with it recently. I firstly asked ChatGPT:

What is the oldest professional football ground in the world?

It started by telling me about how Sandygate Road in Sheffield is the oldest professional football ground in the world (wrong). When I corrected it, it then said Bramall Lane is the oldest (debatable). Then it told me the John Street stand at Bramall Lane was named after John Nicholson (he doesn't exist), before correcting itself by saying it was actually named after a fella called John Street. I then asked:

Who is John Street?

Here was ChatGPT's response.

Which all sounds great. The only issue is that John Street doesn't exist. He was never a chairman of the Football League, never introduced goal nets and was never a director of Sheffield United. The John Street stand is named after the street in Sheffield where it lies. ChatGPT invented this person and his backstory out of nothing.

All of this is to say: if ChatGPT is making these kind of huge errors, you can't do the same. So whenever you write anything, do thorough research. Back up any questionable claims (such as statistics) with links to reputable sources (studies, reports, questionnaires - just not Wikipedia). It'll give you more authority, make people trust you, and convince them to read on.

Talk to experts in the field

Another way to write better content than AI is to talk to other human beings. Revolutionary, we know! But let's say you're writing a blog about how to get a website to rank on page one of Google. Instead of searching the internet and summarising your findings (ChatGPT can do that), go out and talk to some experts in the field. Ask them how they would do it. Pepper your article with a few quotes from them. Use their insights to shape your content.

ChatGPT is very good, but it is still essentially churning out things it sees on the internet. By getting out there and speaking to real humans, you're doing something that ChatGPT can't do. And that makes your content better.

Use writing devices like metaphors, similes and alliteration

For the eagle-eyed observers amongst us, it's still fairly easy to recognise AI-generated content. It over-uses certain phrases, the copy starts to lose coherence after 500 words or so, and it sounds altogether a little robotic. Another thing it never does is  use writing devices like metaphors, similes and alliteration.

This is a uniquely human characteristic, and whilst you don't need to go full Shakespeare in a blog post, these writing devices can help to simplify complicated concepts. They also bring your writing to life by connecting with the reader.

Write how you speak

If you're struggling to de-AI your writing, here's a simple trick. Write the way you speak. It sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised by how many people take on a formal, jargon-filled tone of voice when they put pen to paper. Everyone has their own unique way of speaking, so translating that to your writing can really help it to stand out.

It's pretty easy to write the way you speak. Just read your copy out loud after you've written it. Anything that doesn't sound human, or natural, or like you, change it. You'll soon humanify your writing - and make it better than anything AI can produce in the process.

Tailor it to your audience

AI writing tools like ChatGPT write in a specific tone of voice. If you ask it then it might be able to write in the style of of a well-known company (like Apple or Google), but outside of that it can't tailor its writing to a certain audience.

Let's say you're writing a blog aimed at middle-aged football fans. Write in a way that's going to appeal to them. Avoid jargon, keep your language simple and add a touch of humour. If your work connects with the reader by being written it in a way they can relate to, it's far more likely they'll engage with it.

Stir emotion in the reader

ChatGPT is good, but it doesn't exactly stir the senses. It writes robotically rather than emotionally. It's not funny, and when it tries to be, it's only funny because it's so bad.

Which is fine in some circumstances. But the best writing is the kind that stirs emotion in the reader: stuff that makes them laugh, makes them angry, makes them interested. Writing that stirs emotions in people is instantly more memorable. And in a world where we're surrounded by cookie-cutter, AI-generated content, the only stuff that's going to stand out has to be memorable in some way.


If there's one thread running through all of this, it's a pretty simple one: Focus on the things that AI can't do:

- AI can't do thorough, accurate and well-referenced research.

- AI can't talk to humans and quote them in a piece of copy.

- AI can't use similes and metaphors to simplify complicated concepts.

- AI can't tailor its tone of voice to every audience.

- AI can't stir emotion in the reader.

If you can do that, you won't go too far wrong.

Nick Harland