Skills Writers Need to Thrive in the AI Era

Robot writing book | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksFollowing Infostack’s 2024 AI Writing Summit, you will find here my guide on the skills writers need in order to thrive in the AI era. From brainstorming to editing and marketing your work, AI can be your most useful assistant. All you need is to learn what it can — and can’t — do for you.

A New Work Landscape

The work landscape is rapidly transforming as it moves away from traditional employment structures characterized by fixed contracts, physical office facilities, and rigid hierarchies. In their place, a more adaptive project-based workforce is emerging, characterized by a mix of employees, consultants, and freelancers.

This change is not just a trend, but also a response to the evolving needs of businesses in an era of digital developments. While many lament the advent of AI and fear it will drive writers out of business, my take is rather different. What’s more, it’s supported by hard data: Europe — despite recording historically low unemployment rates — faces a pressing skills shortage crisis. Reports show that over three-quarters of companies struggle to find employee candidates with the necessary skills, and this reality is particularly evident in the digital sector. Strikingly, the figures reveal that 40% of adults lack basic digital skills, underscoring the urgent need to reassess educational and professional models.

The conclusion is clear: writers with digital skills such as the use of AI are — and will likely be for a long time — in high demand.

Embracing Digitization

A recent European study titled “The Future of Work Study 2023: Digitalisation and the Labor Market of Tomorrow” has identified some critical characteristics and trends at work. Three overarching themes emerged:

  • making the most of digitization,
  • recognizing the radical role of artificial intelligence, and
  • embracing lifelong learning.

The possibilities of digitization are undeniable. Companies and individuals are embracing remote work and digital tools, reflecting the evolving trend of work as a service. However, during this transformation, there is a vital need to recognize the emerging opportunities in the new business models and industries created by digitization.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a pivotal force reshaping industries and roles. Humans must work symbiotically with machines to maintain their place in the rapidly evolving job market. At the same time, organizations must integrate artificial intelligence into processes to effectively maintain competitiveness and streamline their operations.

Here is how writers can use AI to thrive in this new environment.


AI allows writers to rapidly explore the broadest possible ideas by using it as an idea-generation engine. By providing an AI system with the right prompts around genre, themes, characters, or story worlds, it can produce a vast quantity of creative premises, plot concepts, and story seed ideas. The writer can then explore these AI-generated ideas, identifying the most intriguing or resonant ones to potentially pursue further.

For instance, a writer could describe their envisioned story world’s setting, rules, and parameters to the AI and have it visualize and expand upon that fictional universe in rich detail. The AI’s ability to connect disparate concepts could yield unique world-building ideas the writer may not have considered. Similarly for characters, the AI can draft engaging backstories, personality traits, and potential character arcs based on the writer’s initial creative direction.

AI can also be an excellent brainstorming partner when a writer has hit a creative roadblock or is looking at their story from a fresh perspective. By inputting the current narrative situation or conflict, the AI can ideate multiple creative branching paths for how the story could logically progress, generating novel scenarios or twists. It can offer metaphors, analogies, or symbolic references that could inspire new artistic directions.

Of course, throughout the brainstorming process, the writer must remain in control, providing the creative guardrails while letting the AI’s imaginative capabilities run wild. The writer can then carefully evaluate and curate the most compelling AI-generated ideas to fit their artistic vision.


Writers often need to gather specifics such as details, quotes, examples, or data points to enrich their narratives or nonfiction works. Manually sifting through and reading numerous sources can be tedious and time-consuming. When it comes to the research phase of writing, AI can rapidly dig for relevant information from vast datasets.

AI has a unique ability to ingest and make connections across large knowledge bases. A writer can prompt the AI with their specific research needs — whether it’s background on a historical period, scientific concepts, geographic details, or any other topic relevant to their writing. The AI can then quickly parse through its trained data, identifying and compiling the most pertinent facts, figures, and insights.

Moreover, the AI can dynamically adjust the depth, scope, and framing of the research material based on the writer’s needs. It can provide a high-level overview or drill down into granular specifics. The information could be presented as straightforward data points, illustrative examples, analytical insights, or even woven into a narrative style — whatever best aids the writer’s creative process.

Additionally, AI research tools excel not just at finding information, but organizing and structuring it intelligently based on the context and creative direction provided by the writer. This exponentially accelerates what might otherwise be a laborious manual research cycle of gathering sources and extracting relevant details so that writers can spend more time on higher-level creative thinking.


Outlining is a critical stage in the writing process that helps writers organize their thoughts, structure their narrative, and ensure a cohesive flow. AI can assist writers in developing comprehensive and well-structured outlines for their stories or manuscripts.

One way AI can aid in outlining is by analyzing the writer’s existing material or concepts and generating a suggested outline structure. By feeding the AI system details about the story premise, characters, setting, and key plot points, it can use its understanding of narrative patterns and storytelling conventions to propose a logical chapter or section breakdown. The AI can thus identify potential subplots, character arcs, and thematic threads that should be woven into the outline.

Additionally, AI can help writers visualize and explore different outline structures based on their preferences and writing styles. For example, if a writer prefers a more traditional three-act structure, the AI can craft an outline adhering to that framework. Alternatively, if the writer wants to experiment with a non-linear or unconventional narrative flow, the AI can generate outline options that deviate from traditional structures.

As the writer iterates on their outline, AI can also assist in refining and expanding it. Specifically, the AI can help the writer identify potential gaps or weaknesses in their outline by providing feedback on pacing, continuity, or areas that require further development. Furthermore, the AI can suggest additional plot points, character moments, or thematic elements that could enrich the overall narrative and strengthen the outline’s cohesiveness.

Throughout the outlining process, the AI acts as a collaborative partner, offering suggestions and guidance based on its understanding of storytelling principles while allowing the writer to maintain creative control. The writer can accept, reject, or modify the AI’s recommendations, tailoring the outline to their unique vision while benefiting from the AI’s analytical capabilities and narrative insights.


In the writing phase, AI can assist writers with everything from generating initial drafts to collaborating on expanding and refining their prose. AI can aid the writing process by quickly generating first drafts or rough outlines based on a prompt or creative direction. This allows writers to rapidly explore different narrative paths, styles, or tones without the laborious process of writing full drafts from scratch. The AI drafts serve as a creative springboard for the writer to then revise and mold to their voice.

Furthermore, when a writer starts fleshing out a scene, chapter, or section, they can provide the AI with the existing writing sample and some guidance. The AI can then effectively “continue the story,” generating new paragraphs or passages that organically build upon the writer’s work. This collaborative back-and-forth allows the writer to offload some of the heavy lifting to AI.

And if a writer finds themselves stuck on how to transition between sections or describe a particular setting/character, they can use AI to connect disparate ideas. The writer inputs the specific pain point and the AI returns multiple options for overcoming that creative hurdle.

Finally, for lengthy works like novels, AI can help writers maintain consistency in aspects like character voices, plot points, and world-building details. The AI can ensure the writer’s new content remains aligned with previously established story elements thanks to its ability to ingest and analyze the full context.

Through each of these use cases, I should stress that the writer remains firmly in the creative driver’s seat, guiding the AI based on their artistic vision. Rather than attempting to fully automate the writing process, they should use the AI tool as a supplementary tool that enhances their own skills.


In the editing phase of the writing process, AI can offer automated assistance in refining and polishing their work. Throughout the editing process, the AI acts as a tireless second set of eyes — something most of us desperately need. It can identify potential areas for improvement while leaving the final creative decisions to the writer. Writers can choose to accept, modify, or reject the AI’s suggestions based on their artistic judgment. The goal is to use AI as a force multiplier, accelerating the editing workflow while still preserving the writer’s unique voice and artistic expression.

However, as with all aspects of writing with the help of AI, you need to make sure you don’t lose your voice in the process, as AI editing can turn even the most exciting text into dull, monotonous drivel if left unchecked.

Having said that, AI can be invaluable when it comes to grammar and style checking. AI-powered grammar and style checkers can analyze a writer’s draft and provide suggestions for improving clarity, conciseness, and adherence to specific writing conventions. These tools go beyond basic spell-checking, identifying more nuanced issues like wordiness, passive voice, and tonal inconsistencies.

Thanks to its ability to ingest a writer’s full manuscript, AI can also provide high-level feedback and critique on elements like pacing, character development, plot holes, and narrative structure. The AI can even identify sections that may need additional attention or suggest areas for potential revision or expansion.

For line-by-line editing, writers can have AI suggest alternative phrasing, varied word choices, or tonal adjustments. Specifically, the AI can offer multiple options for rewording sentences or passages, allowing the writer to maintain their authentic voice while tightening the prose.

Another way to use AI, one that often goes unnoticed, is for continuity-checking purposes. This is particularly useful for longer works, as AI can help ensure continuity across the narrative. The writer can have the AI flag any inconsistencies in details like character descriptions, setting elements, or plot points that may have been introduced inadvertently during the writing process.

Finally, AI editing tools can be trained on a writer’s specific stylistic preferences or the conventions of a particular genre or publication. The AI can then provide tailored feedback and suggestions that align with the writer’s established voice, their publisher’s needs and guidelines, and the audience’s expectations.


In the publishing phase, AI can streamline the process and potentially open up new opportunities in several ways, starting with formatting and layout. Specifically, AI tools can help automate such tasks, correctly structure a manuscript, generate tables of contents, handle page numbering and chapter breaks, and ensure compliance with industry standards. For ebooks, AI can also optimize the formatting for different e-reader devices and platforms.

Also, AI image generation models can be a powerful tool for creating visually striking book covers. Writers can provide the AI with prompts related to their book’s genre, themes, and imagery, and the AI can generate multiple cover concepts and design options to explore.

For writers pursuing self-publishing routes, AI can guide them through the various steps and requirements, from formatting ebook files to navigating distribution channels and promotional strategies that AI has identified as effective for independent authors.

In addition, AI can help in the thorny issue of rights management. As writers explore new models like Web3 publishing or managing intellectual property rights, AI can assist them in areas like smart contract generation, royalty tracking, or even exploring new frontiers like personalized book iterations using AI generation techniques.

Book Marketing

AI streamlines labor-intensive tasks like content generation and data analysis, letting writers build deeper audience connections fast and at scale. This is no trivial matter, as one of the toughest issues writers face is marketing their own work. Whereas most of us can churn thousands of words at a time, we struggle coming up with a few sentences when it comes to things like book blurbs. Thankfully, AI language models can help craft compelling marketing materials, such as book descriptions, author bios, and advertising copy. It can even analyze successful book marketing examples to generate persuasive copy tailored to the writer’s work and target audience.

AI can also ingest and analyze large datasets around reader behavior, book sales trends, social media activity, and other relevant data points. Writers can thus gain detailed insights into their target audiences, such as interests, preferences, online habits, etc. They can then strategically tailor their marketing messaging and tactics to better resonate with those specific audience segments. Finally, we can have an accurate answer to that old question, “Who is your ideal reader?”

When it comes to metadata, AI can be an invaluable tool in a writer’s quest to increase visibility, connect with audiences, and drive engagement. After all, Amazon is one giant, specialized search engine. So, you need to insert the right keywords into your book page to ensure discoverability. AI can help writers optimize a book’s metadata such as the title, subtitle, keywords, categories, etc. The goal is to increase visibility and improve search rankings based on its analysis of successful book metadata patterns.

AI language models can also help generate market content across different channels, such as email campaigns, ad copy, social media posts, blog content, and more. And thanks to its ability to analyze each reader’s unique tastes and behaviors, it can even suggest personalized recommendations so that writers deliver the right promotional content to the right audience at the optimal time through the preferred channels. Additionally, writers can rapidly test many variations of marketing creative, subject lines, calls-to-action, etc. thanks to AI-driven A/B testing and multivariate analysis. They can then quickly optimize their marketing efforts based on performance data rather than hunches.

Finally, AI can monitor social media, forums, reviews, and other online discussions to let writers know any mentions of their work, thus letting them engage with their audiences.

The Need for Lifelong Learning

The key point to remember is that all these ways to use AI are part of the new skills that writers must cultivate. However, they are not static. Lifelong learning has ceased to be a simple slogan: it is an imperative reality. Retraining and upskilling are essential elements for success in this new labor market brought about by technology.

I can’t stress enough that the digitization of the labor market is not a harbinger of a dark, dystopian future, but an avenue of opportunity for individuals and economies to adapt, thrive, and redefine work in a rapidly changing world. However, writers can’t let the practices of the past stand in the way of the possibilities of the future.

The future of writing requires a reassessment of established norms, a proactive attitude toward AI, an acceptance of its transformative role, and an unwavering commitment to lifelong learning. By embracing these changes we will not only redefine writing, but also pave the way for a future of greater flexibility, resilience, and prosperity.