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Can I Use ChatGPT to Write Stories?

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Have you ever wondered, could I use ChatGPT to write stories? Well, I did! And, to my surprise, it’s become an amazing support in my writing process, helping me create therapeutic stories by fuelling my creativity, and helping me to proofread and edit. But as with any powerful tool, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has its fair share of risks and drawbacks that we should all keep in mind. In this blog post, we'll dive into how I’ve been using ChatGPT to help me create therapeutic stories and explore the potential risks and drawbacks associated with it so you can benefit too.

Let's Start with Idea Generation:

Ever found yourself staring at a blank page, not knowing where to begin? Yep. I've been there too! When I need a little kickstart, ChatGPT can come to the rescue. For instance, let's say I wanted to write a story about anxiety for a child who loves penguins. I can simply ask ChatGPT to provide me with some opening lines for a children's story about an anxious penguin, just like I did below.

Opening lines generated by a ChatGPT prompt for a therapeutic story about anxiety and penguins. Once upon a time, in a chilly kingdom of ice and snow, there lived a penguin named Sammy who worried about everything, from sliding on ice to making friends.  In the heart of the Antarctic, where the snowflakes danced in the air, there was a little penguin named Pip who had a big problem—she was anxious about every little adventure that awaited her.  In the whimsical land of Frostyton, where penguins waddled and played, there was a special penguin named Nervous Nelly who always found something to fret about, no matter how small.  On an iceberg floating in the vast ocean, a timid penguin named Toby could be found huddled away from the other playful penguins. Worries swirled in his mind like the snowflakes outside.  Far away in the frosty wilderness, where the auroras painted the sky with vibrant hues, a shy penguin named Willow struggled with anxiety, her heart fluttering like a snowflake caught in a gust of wind.

I can then use these prompts and ideas to help get me started, so I’m no longer just staring frustratedly at a blank page. I might also find inspiration from the words or images that it shares. In the example above, I immediately felt inspired by the line: ‘worries swirled in his mind like the snowflakes outside’. This gave me an idea of using a snow-globe as a metaphor for how to help worries settle!

Battling Writers Block

Picture this: you've started writing your story, but suddenly you hit a roadblock. Writer's block has struck, and you're stuck on how to move the story forward. This is where AI can lend a helping hand. Copy and paste what you've written so far and ask ChatGPT for ideas on what could happen next. It can provide you with examples that can either spark your own ideas or give you a starting point to expand upon. Check out the example below, it's like having a brainstorming buddy right at your fingertips!

Chat GPT output for idea generation: As the snowflakes settled inside the snowglobe, Penny's worried thoughts began to organize themselves. Each snowflake transformed into a different color, representing a specific worry. With Wise Wilbur's guidance, Penny started to address each concern one by one, gaining a sense of control and finding practical solutions.  Penny peered into the snowglobe, and to her amazement, she saw vivid scenes of joyful penguin gatherings and playful adventures. Wise Wilbur explained that the snowglobe contained glimpses of the future, filled with moments of happiness and triumph. Inspired and reassured, Penny set off on a journey to make those visions a reality, embracing new experiences with courage and enthusiasm.  As Penny shook the snowglobe, a soft melody filled the air. Wise Wilbur revealed that the snowflakes were musical notes, each carrying a soothing tune. Penny closed her eyes, allowing the enchanting melodies to wash over her, calming her anxious thoughts and bringing a sense of tranquility. With this newfound inner peace, she discovered her talent for composing music that brought joy to her fellow penguins.  In a magical twist, the snowglobe emitted a gentle glow, illuminating Penny's worried face. Wise Wilbur explained that the snowflakes held the power to transform negative thoughts into positive affirmations. With each shake, the snowflakes illuminated Penny's mind with affirmations like "I am brave," "I am capable," and "I am loved." Encouraged by these affirmations, Penny embarked on a quest to help other anxious penguins find their own inner strength and self-belief.  As Penny gazed at the snowglobe, she noticed tiny penguins within the swirling snowflakes, each representing a different worry she had. Wise Wilbur revealed that these penguin reflections were manifestations of her own fears. With his guidance, Penny learned to confront and challenge her worries head-on, transforming them into opportunities for growth and self-discovery. With newfound confidence, Penny became a source of inspiration for her fellow penguins, encouraging them to face their fears and embrace their uniqueness.

Editing and feedback

Once you've completed your story, it's time for some feedback. ChatGPT can step in and provide you with a fresh perspective. Be specific when asking for feedback. In fact, I asked ChatGPT what kind of feedback I could request, and it gave me a fantastic list of suggestions (see, it's even helpful for writing blogs too!)

ChatGPT output for therapeutic story feedback prompts: Overall impression: Ask for general feedback on the story, such as the pacing, flow, and engaging nature of the narrative.  Character development: Inquire about the depth and relatability of the protagonist, Penny the Penguin, as well as the other characters introduced in the story.  Theme and message: Seek feedback on whether the story effectively conveys its intended theme or message about overcoming anxiety and finding inner strength.  Dialogue and language: Request feedback on the dialogue between characters, ensuring that it sounds natural and supports the tone of the story. You can also ask for suggestions on language usage and whether it is appropriate for the target audience (children).  Plot progression: Ask for feedback on how the story unfolds and whether the events and challenges faced by Penny are engaging and build suspense or intrigue.  Resolution: Inquire about the resolution of the story and whether it effectively addresses Penny's anxiety and provides a satisfying conclusion for the readers.  Engagement for children: If your target audience is children, ask for feedback on whether the story is captivating, holds their attention, and has the potential to entertain and resonate with young readers.  Suggestions for improvement: Encourage your readers to provide specific suggestions or ideas to enhance the story, whether it's related to plot, character development, or other aspects.  Remember, it's always helpful to specify the areas you are most interested in receiving feedback on to receive targeted and constructive input.

But Wait, There Are Some Considerations:

While AI can be an amazing addition to your writing toolbox, it's important to acknowledge its limitations so we can avoid or work around them!

Story Quality

One drawback is that AI-generated stories can sometimes feel formulaic or oversimplified. Therapeutic stories require a deep understanding of complex emotions and the ability to convey them through metaphor. AI, being a machine, may struggle to capture the subtleties of emotional experiences, leading to a potential feeling of disconnect in the story.

Loss of Creativity and Confidence

Another thing to be mindful of is the risk of stifling your own creativity and confidence if you rely too heavily on AI support. We have to struggle sometimes to learn and grow, and if you use AI every time you’re stuck, you’ll miss out on those "aha!" moments, and the joy of overcoming challenges on your own. I truly believe we are all capable of writing wonderful stories, and if you always turn to AI, you’ll never get to really discover that truth for yourself.

Privacy Concerns

Lastly, let's talk privacy concerns. When writing a story for a specific child, it's essential to reflect on their unique experiences. However, remember that anything you write on ChatGPT can be stored and analysed. Therefore, you shouldn’t share any personal or private details at all. Particularly as professionals, it is crucial to consider this and ensure that anything we write adheres to our ethical standards.

In conclusion, AI can be an incredible tool for your writing journey, but I believe it should be seen as a partner or collaborator, not the sole writer of your story. In this way, you can benefit from help with idea generation, feedback, and editing, while still infusing your story with your own, unique creativity and voice.

Of course, if you really want AI to write entire stories for you, you can absolutely ask it to do that, and it will! But to me, the real power of a story comes from the heart of the person writing it, and while AI can be a great addition to the writing process, it simply can’t replicate that.

So, go ahead and explore the power of AI in your writing. But remember, the real magic happens when you can tap into your own imagination and bring that to life on the page.

And remember, if you want to learn more about exactly how to do this, without needing to turn to AI at all, you can sign up to Sophie’s Storytellers Academy. I’ll teach you everything you need to know about how to create powerful, heartfelt therapeutic stories. Find out more by clicking here!

Good luck, and happy writing.

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