I asked AI to write a story like me. It sucked.

Eric Boyd
7 min readApr 5, 2023

So does that mean I suck?

Photo by Tianyi Ma on Unsplash

I am far from a luddite. Integrating technology into my everyday life is a normal and usually fun thing for me. I like wearing noise-cancelling earbuds when the bus is too loud, I like having a smartwatch tell me to get up and walk a few more steps by the end of the hour. I use a phone app that gamifies my daily habits and, as a result, I’ve been better about cleaning my cat’s litter box and writing in my journal. If I don’t, the ‘lil guy on my screen will die! I literally own a smart jacket because it amuses me to leave my phone somewhere in a room and make it play music by inconspicuously tapping my sleeve; it freaks people out and that’s funny. The idea of supplementing or improving myself through tech doesn’t bother me, yet AI writing is proving to be a bridge too far— not because it is bad, but because I’m now afraid I’m bad.

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My first taste of generative text AI was just last week, but I’ve used different software programs and applications to write for years. In the past I have pasted work into websites like Hemingway Editor to make sure my sentences are neither too complex nor too simple. I’ve used predictive programs to tell me if it believed, on a percentage, if a character I was writing was a male or female from examining dialogue (for some pieces I’ve purposely refined the sentences until they were 50/50, unable to make a decision). Because I can often ramble in emails I’m happy to allow Gmail to give me suggestions as I type, keeping my message as clean as possible if it’s not particularly personal. In all of these programs I’ve used technology to help me smooth over the parts of my work I don’t want to be rough; conversely, I’ve noticed when they go too far and stayed the course as a program told me to cut a semicolon or — and this is truly unforgivable—tried to remove my beloved long dashes.

I like the technological workflow I’ve thrown my words into, generally trusting it to get me where I’m trying to go. Of course I still share work with actual people, and their suggestions mean far more to me than a computer’s, but I also understand how busy people are and can’t expect…

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Eric Boyd

Work in Joyland, Guernica, and The Offing. Winner of a PEN Prison Writing Award. Working on a novel. // linktr.ee/ericboyd