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The Pleasure of an Empowered Writing Pivot

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No. 133 | By Christine Carron

The plan was to write a 5-part blog series about AI and the writing adventure, but one post in—last week’s—and I’m done. The research got a bit too much. Too unsettling. The opinion intensity in many of the articles swung from songs of salvation to dirges of doom.

I usually found the salvation spins more disquieting. One tech billionaire believes that an AI-supported utopia is possible, and that the tech will solve all the world’s woes—as long as there is absolutely no regulation of it. He envisions that in this idyllic future every adult and child on the planet will have their own personal AI butler-coach-concierge.

I don’t know about you, but that creeps out my introvert soul.

Also, while I have zero doubt that there are practical and useful applications of AI that we are already experiencing, last week alone, I was effusively pitched three different AI tools and services that would help me never have to write again. 

Okay . . . but, uhm, what if I like to write?

The final droplet that tipped me into a my-AI-cup-overfloweth-and-not-in-a good-way mood was reading a job description for an “AI Editor.” One of the listed duties of this role: churn out 200-250 AI edited articles for the web every week. 

Goodness. My one blog post a week is pretty paltry in comparison.

(Someday there is going to be a Marie Kondo for the internet, and whoever that person is will make bank lifetimes over cleaning up the AI-generated-chaff that is already starting to choke the web. Though I am sure someone will make an AI tool for that . . . . It all feels so recursive.)

Due to all of the above, I hit a wall. Enough. Done. 

Time for a Pivot

I had a writing plan, and then the plan didn’t turn out as I expected. But if I ditched the plan—if I pivoted—there would be consequences. I would, for example, have to scramble for a post topic for this week, and come up with three more topics for the remaining weeks in the planned AI-series. 

Luckily, no one was paying me for the series, so there were no contractual consequences. Perhaps, there would be a handful of disappointed readers who liked the topic, but I would only know that for sure if once I published this post, I received feedback indicating such disappointment.

(Quite possibly, there would also be readers who would be happy I switched course.)

None of the consequences rose to a level that made me think, “I really need to see this through.”

So I pivoted. With pleasure.

As soon as I did, it occurred to me that pivoting on a writing plan could be my new topic for this week. So even the most worrisome consequence—not knowing what I would write about this week—turned out to be not much of a consequence at all.

Pivots as Writer Power Moves

A writing pivot is a power move, but for that to make sense I have to explain what I mean by a “pivot.”

A pivot is a grounded decision to go off plan. If you don’t have a plan, you can’t pivot.

Clear plans and, when needed, clear pivots are both tools writers can use to take charge of their progress and productivity.

Sometimes writers think that if a plan didn’t go to plan, it failed. That is not the case. If a plan gets you into action and gets you more data in the process, then the plan did its job.

It is not a failure to switch course. Insisting on sticking with a plan you know is no longer accurate, or viable, or aligned with where you want to go is absolutely not smart process. In such cases, it would be folly not to pivot. 

That’s why a writer’s productivity will benefit from knowing how to pivot off plan as much as it benefits from knowing how to plan well in the first place.

How to Land a Grounded Pivot

The first step in landing a grounded pivot is, as noted, having a writing plan.

The second step is to have a regular (daily) reflection process, where you assess how your plan is going. The reflection process will give you the time and space to recognize when something is not working in the plan, or not getting you the output you expected, or having an unintended consequence, etc.

With the AI blog series plan, the offness was the dawning realization of the drag that researching the AI was having on my mindset. Definitely not a result I expected when I originally selected the subject as a topic series.

The third step to landing a grounded pivot is taking the time to assess the situation. Weigh the pros and cons. Think through the consequences. In my case, ditching the blog series had minimal risk, but researching AI intensively for another month and writing four more “takes” on the subject felt seriously unpleasant.

The final step, of course, is to pivot—or not—based on the results of your assessment. If you decide to pivot, then you can rest assured you made the best decision based on the information you had at the time.

The Pleasure of the Pivot

Pivoting off a writing plan—when done with thoughtfulness and care—will result in immediate ease and relief. That was certainly the case for me, when I finally ditched the AI topic.

Sure there may be some scrambling as you regroup post-pivot, but often even that extra effort will feel empowering. You’ll feel a boost that you are back in charge of your writing adventure. Such boosts are motivating, and motivation boosts productivity.

You also could get a wink from the universe. 

As you might have noted from the opening to this post, all my research and reading had left me a bit disgruntled about AI. But minutes after I finished the first draft of this post, I read an article about Dolly Parton in the Guardian. I love Dolly and likely subconsciously was thinking, “Yes, a topic with no AI.” 

Silly me. 

One of the members of the press asked Dolly if she would be down with an AI version of herself. To which she replied: “Any intelligence I have is artificial anyways. In fact everything I have is artificial.”

That made me laugh out loud. In two sentences, Dolly dispelled all the AI research angst I was feeling. The synchronicity of reading that article after I made the decision to pivot—yep, a total wink from the Universe. 

And more fun awaits. Who knows what I will cook up for you on the blog in the coming weeks. And who knows what you will cook up on your writing adventure when you gift yourself with smart, grounded pivots. 

Wahoo! You’ve got this!