creative writing women writing

Formula (writing) is for babies

One of the main causes of writer’s block is the overabundance of writing advice online. These checklists, sorry to say, were created to raise the SEO of the sites that are posting them. Every day, as I scroll through my Reader, I can see that the pressure to conform to “structures” is sapping the mojo of my blogging colleagues.

Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks
Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks

There is no magic formula to writing because even large film studios, after using these checklists to spit out treatments for films, have to pirate their own releases in order to generate interest.

There exist deep learning algorithms so finely tuned that they can render writing samples resembling something that you would create. These algorithms are open source and anyone can request to be placed on a wait list to test them. They are trained by writers online who write to conform to these checklists.

A friend wants to hang out

One consequence that many of these writers are overlooking is the long-term viability of writing as a career. Large news publishing companies are already making huge profits using this technology and a skeleton staff of freelance journalists. Sooner or later, the algorithm will supplant us and nullify our creative efforts. I will not be shocked if next year, a New York Times bestselling novel is written by AI and an eight-year-old on an iPad.

Foil packaging for Japanese rice snacks
Black paper swirls

Or, we could tell original stories, the way we want to, and support fellow writers as they do the same.

I cannot repeat this often enough. The film version of Blanka Lipinska’s Polish-language novel, 365 Days, has 2 stars on IMDB and yet, she is raking in the mega-$$$ and is now besties with Oprah. When someone starts talking to me about my work as if I’ve done something offensive, I point in her direction and say, “Have you … seen … this display?” (Thanks for that, Blanka).

A new hairdo

You could be sitting on an idea for a viral micro series. You might have a beautiful concept for a live, improvised audio play on Clubhouse when it finally comes out of beta. But you might not develop your ideas because a list chastised you for writing what you like.

You are a human being, you are on planet Earth, and you have stories to tell. Are you going to wait until an AI checklist tells you that you are perfect, or are you going to write?


Life is short, so let’s be decent.