A love letter to imaginative storytelling (and two fingers to ChatGPT)

A love letter to imaginative storytelling (and two fingers to ChatGPT)
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There’s a reason why human-generated content lives and will, in my opinion, stand the test of time. Welcome to my love letter to the written word and the art of imaginative storytelling in marketing.

This article isn’t a scathing attack on businesses that choose to engage in ChatGPT. I write this out of a passion for something I love.

To me, imaginative storytelling is a form of magic. Even during chaotic times, it allows me to find common ground with other humans and immerse myself in their worlds.

I’m able to understand why a human feels a certain way or acts the way they do. It’s an opportunity to learn new things. It’s a form of escapism. It’s the very essence of what it is to communicate and be human.

It doesn’t mean I have to agree with an idea or take action. But it does offer real perspectives or thoughts from real people.  

As much as we’d like to, we can’t truly walk in the shoes of others. But we can understand the steps they take with imaginative storytelling. Whether it’s fictional or true, there’s a lesson in every tale.  

And I believe it’s still got an integral role to play in marketing for years to come.

Imaginative storytelling isn’t regenerative

Storytelling Quote

In our “done-for-you” society, we’re in danger of losing our curiosity. I’m seeing it more and more. We expect others to fill in the gaps instead of asking “Why?” or taking the time to find out the answers.

One of the reasons I’ve managed to get this far with Content Chef is through my ability to channel my inner toddler.

I don’t have all the answers. And if I don’t know something which I feel will be of value to my career and business, I will investigate and get curious. Whether it’s 5 am or 11 pm, I fail until I succeed.  

There’s nothing wrong with asking others. In fact, I wouldn’t have a business if you (the audience) didn’t ask us for our expertise and support.

However, I think there’s value in learning, even if you don’t have the time to implement the lessons yourself. When a client asks for my opinion on something, it isn’t definitive. After all, marketing is often subjective and open to interpretation. But it is based on experience, statistics, research and my understanding of people. It’s also a collaborative effort. We learn together. We succeed together.

But if we stop asking questions or working collaboratively, human to human, where will end up?

The Disadvantages of ChatGPT

Despite living in a world where connecting is made simple, I think many of us are probably feeling more disconnected than ever.

We’re losing the willpower to engage in meaningful conversations and share stories and ideas. Or even if we try to share, many of us are too busy to listen or don’t know how to do it.

And it will probably only worsen if we start churning out generic software-led content.

What happened to the sense of curiosity we had when we were children?

The joy we found in reading the works of Enid Blyton, JK Rowling and Roald Dahl.

The awe we felt when Buzz Lightyear took us to infinity and beyond.

The possibilities we explored when we found a stick on a family walk.

I get it, our time is precious and money talks. There are also a lot of copywriter cowboys out there. So, finding ways to automate things can make sense in some instances. For example:

  • Automating email sequences is smart business.
  • Scheduling social posts saves us time.
  • Streamlining processes through work management platforms is logical.

I’m a huge lover of technology. But automating the creative process of writing and designing feels like a breach of our right to express ourselves with authenticity, use our imagination in a broader sense and be quintessentially human.

Don’t you want to know why things happen? Isn’t there bliss in learning about “the why”? Don’t you find pleasure in engaging with real people with real stories?

Our sense of wonder seems to be dwindling in the ether.

And I’m afraid that if we bypass the creative process and the art of human-led imaginative storytelling altogether, whether it’s through copywriting, graphic design, scriptwriting or making music, we’re going to lose a sense of purpose in what we do and why we do things.

Imaginative storytelling is a feeling

What you’re reading now comes from the heart.

I get that AI-driven software like ChatGPT will only improve. I actually think there's value in using it as a research buddy to help form new ideas. But it's the actual process of writing and designing, which I cannot support.

In time, we'll become master prompters, and AI will start picking up on colloquialisms and funny slang. But at what cost?

We’ll use a regenerative tool spouting out information sourced from the internet from previous times that may or may not result in plagiarism. Instead of writing in the present from a place of imagination, passion and love. And not to mention the negative impact generative AI is having on the environment.

ChatGPT Quote

Let me ask you this; why do we start our own businesses?

Because we love what we do. And if we don’t, we soon get found out.

A restaurant owner might adore a certain cuisine and want to share their culinary vision with their local community.

While a business coach may find fulfilment in giving professionals direction and empowering them to find their place in the working world of today.

Either way, they have a purpose, a story to tell and a love of what they do.

Strong, human-generated imaginative storytelling helps tell these stories in a way that makes sense to other humans.

We identify what matters and use our imagination to write with intent, creativity and genuineness.

You can’t (in principle) mimic truth without making any mistakes or sounding like others, instead of your unique self. And if we do get to a stage where AI allows us to, maybe we need to question our ability to separate authenticity and legitimacy from imitation.

The copy part of the copywriter label doesn’t mean we have to copy everything.

I’m not here to follow suit and make your business sound the same.

I’m here to understand you and find a voice that rings true for you and your customers.

When I buy into the work of my clients, I write with feeling. Real, human feeling.

It’s the shit that gets me up every morning and makes me feel connected with other humans in this disconnected digital world.

I do this by being curious, forming meaningful relationships with other humans and using my own imagination. You can’t program that or get it from a piece of software.

Imaginative Storytelling Quote

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Written by Daryl Charman