I have a confession, the last piece of long-form content I worked on, the Gaming Commerce article, was a unique experience for me. As someone with dyslexia, I've always struggled with writing and lacked the confidence to tackle lengthy content without assistance from others. However, in this post, I'll share how an internal tool called WPP Imagine powered by multiple LLMs (in my case Chat GPT-4) helped me overcome my limitations and achieve something I never thought possible.

Before diving into my writing process, let's talk about what it's like living with dyslexia, that might add a little context.

My experience with dyslexia

Growing up, I was a relatively smart kid (if I do say so myself) who could talk the talk, but when it came to test scores, let's just say they were less than impressive. Luckily, my parents had the foresight to get me tested at around 10 or 11, which led to them finding out that I was dyslexic. With this newfound understanding, they found me a specialist tutor to help me overcome my challenges.

Back then, all I knew was that my spelling and reading skills were really poorbad. Thankfully, the tutoring worked wonders, providing me with the tools to brute-force my way through school tests and homework. But what truly made a difference for me was finding a passion that allowed me to dive deep into subjects like astronomy. This was a game-changer, especially as it typically took me three times longer to read something compared to everyone else.

Reading out loud, however, remains my Achilles heel, and it's something I still struggle with today. That's why I tend to avoid writing scripts for my presentations, opting instead to memorize key points and use visuals as cues. Nowadays, it's all about using tools to help me be effective. Google has become my go-to spell-checker, an invaluable resource I use every day.

In this blog post I want to discuss how Large Language Models (LLMs) have become a tool akin to spell-checkers for me, helping me effectively communicate my thoughts and ideas, and enabling me finally to do something that I’ve wanted to do for quite a while.

The challenges of writing with dyslexia

As someone who has always struggled with dyslexia, I used to feel held back when it came to long-form writing. It seemed like an insurmountable challenge, especially when I compared myself to my sisters - one a Times bestseller and the other a published cookbook author. I couldn't help but wonder if I was the only one in the family destined to be without a book of my own!

Dyslexia made it difficult for me to organize my thoughts and express them clearly in writing. When an idea struck me, it would appear as a blurry fully formed picture in my mind, which I then had to sharpen and refine. This often led to thinking in bullet-points that jumped around, making it a lot of effort to maintain a clear thread throughout my writing.

However, everything changed when along came these LLMs like Chat GPT. This tool has allowed me to create long-form content by simply inputting my bullet-pointed thoughts and having the AI transform them into coherent paragraphs. While the resulting text may not be as easy for me to read as bullet-points, it definitely works better for most readers.

While working on the gaming whitepaper – a partner piece to this article - I found that using Chat GPT allowed me to focus on the core ideas and interesting statistics, rather than getting bogged down by paragraph structure and grammar. The AI wasn't dictating what I should say; instead, it took my thoughts and made them more professional and polished, allowing me to overcome the challenges posed by dyslexia and embrace a way of doing something I thought I would never be able to really do. Now, I'm one step closer to joining my sisters in the world of published authors - watch out Saara and Sally I’m coming for you!

Using ChatGPT for writing

When it comes to using generative models like Chat GPT, I've learned that it's all about crafting the right prompts. For my writing projects, I found success with a simple yet effective prompt: "Take these bullet-points and turn them into the chapter of a blog post written in the first person." Initially, I experimented with more complex prompts that focused on writing style, but I soon realized that providing detailed bullet points led to better results. In essence, the model was fine-tuning my thoughts rather than completely rewriting them.

Using this technology isn't difficult, and my experience has been quite positive so far. However, as with any skill, perfecting its use requires experimentation and practice. I'm eager to see how my writing evolves as I continue to explore different approaches and discover new tips.

It's important to note that while Chat GPT is an incredibly helpful tool, it doesn't replace the need for personal input and creativity. After generating content, I always double-check and refine the text to ensure it captures my unique voice and style. Sometimes, I even rewrite entire paragraphs before sending them back to the AI for grammar checking and polishing. Ultimately, this process helps me create content that not only flows well but makes me seems like a human with a solid grasp of the English language.

Tips for others

  • Know your main weakness: Identify your main weaknesses to choose a tool that complements your writing. For instance, I know my weaknesses are spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. This means that my writing can be too colloquial, which may not always work for long-form writing.
  • Put yourself back into it: Inject your personality into your writing by playing around with the tools and testing them out. Ensure that you don't lose yourself in the process. Use the tool to enhance your writing then reword it to include your unique voice.
  • Don’t outsource your thinking: Don't just give it data and ask it to write an 800-word blog post in the first person. The result will be generic and lack focus on your ideas, thoughts, and experiences. Instead, use the tool to help you understand the data better. Even then, triple-check the output as there could be a crucial data point that the tool missed. For example, you could provide a prompt such as "Write an 800-word blog post in the first person, focusing on the differences between the 55+ age cohort and the 16-24 one." This is a little better but really you should be even more specific, you know what stats are the most interesting to your readers.
  • Double check everything: This tool was undoubtedly beneficial in aiding me to write long-form content. However, I ensured that the written material was reviewed by my colleagues for accuracy and precision. Additionally, our Head of Thought Leadership acknowledged the impressive nature of the work but suggested that further refinement is necessary to meet the high standards expected within our organization.

Conclusion

As someone who has struggled with dyslexia, I understand the frustration that comes with trying to improve spelling and reading speed. However, I firmly believe that practice is key to improvement. While there may be a ceiling to our abilities, it's important to continue practicing and striving for better writing.

Using ChatGPT or any other LLM tool can be incredibly helpful for those of us who struggle to get our thoughts down on paper. It allows us to focus on the content of our writing rather than getting bogged down by spelling and grammar errors. And while it's true that using these tools may require extra time for checking and proofreading, the benefits far outweigh the costs.

To those who argue that using these tools takes away from the humanity of writing, I would ask: why should we be limited? Just as spell-checkers were seen as a positive thing, we should embrace technology that helps us communicate more effectively. In the end, it's not about achieving perfection but rather about expressing ourselves in the best way possible. So, let's continue to use these tools and push the boundaries of what we can achieve!

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