The best AI tools to make you a better writer

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This article is republished with permission from Wonder Tools, a newsletter that helps you discover the most useful sites and apps. Subscribe here.

You’ll soon see AI in most writing tools. CanvaNotionCraftCoda, and other popular writing services have been racing to add new AI features. Google Docs added a new AI-driven summarization feature. Read on for what AI can do for you, where the hype goes too far, and a few recommended tools to try.

Craft gets the nod for best 30-second video demo:

Beyond these big apps, a slew of startups have built brand-new writing services that rely on AI to reduce the friction we face when staring at a blank page.

The hype factor

Some go a bit too far, promising the moon.

Jasper, an AI writing service, raised $125 million at a $1.5 billion valuation. The appeal of writing faster is clear. But AI-focused startups that emphasize speed and volume should expect a backlash from fans of thoughtfulness and quality.

Postwise.ai promises to automatically generate tweets for you when you type in any topic. I’m not sure we need 10x the amount of automated, low-quality content pumped out ever faster in a world already drowning in hot takes.

AI tools to try

  • LexI love its simplicity. It’s designed specifically for individual writers, not marketers, technologists or corporate teams. It doesn’t make braggadocious claims, just helps writers in subtle ways.

    Lex draws on the same OpenAI engine as Canva Docs but lacks its visual features. It’s useful if you write often but don’t need the 150 menu options available in Microsoft Word. For now, Lex is free, with a waitlist for access. For now, Lex is free, with a waitlist for access.

    Still in private beta, it already has great features, including:

    • title generator to suggest headlines for whatever you’re writing.
    • question answerer to respond concisely to factual queries.
    • A paragraph writer that assesses what you’ve written and suggests a relevant next paragraph or bullet-points that build on your argument. It can also help remind you of blind spots in your writing by listing topics, facts or issues you may have accidentally ignored.
    • Writing stats to track productivity.
  • ChatGPT isn’t a writing service per se, but it’s a helpful way to challenge your own thinking by seeking out AI explanations of complex issues. More than a million people have already signed up to chat with this remarkable chatbot that answers questions with an eerily human touch.
  • Craft.do has the best-designed implementation of any of the AI writing tools I’ve seen so far. You hit / and it gives you some options for adding directly into whatever doc you’re working on. It works on the Mac and Windows apps, on the Web and on iOS.

    You can use the AI feature to summarize or explain something; create an outline; write a pros and cons list; generate keywords or hashtags; suggest a title; add to something you’ve written; or translate your text into English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Korean or Japanese. It can stray beyond those features. I asked it to generate a limerick about AI, which you’ll see in this AI-generated document it spun out of my testing.

  • Copy.ai is useful for generating marketing materials. Here’s what I found interesting about it.

    To test it I typed in some keywords about the Wonder Tools newsletter. It generated surprisingly decent marketing copy employing the Pain/Problem-Agitate-Solution framework.

    It didn’t, of course, generate the time or expertise required to figure out a marketing strategy. For non-marketers, though, AI-generated text can provide a helpful starting point.

    You can also use it to generate YouTube titles and descriptions, Instagram captions, TikTok video ideas, Facebook ad text, and various other formats.

  • Canva Docs calls its AI feature Magic Write, which I mentioned in my piece last week. It joins another Canva AI tool that lets you generate images by typing in a text prompt, and a magic resizing tool that will adjust your image to fit whatever dimensions you need. Those first two AI features are free.

Back to the Future

Remember typewriters? Computers eventually followed, enabling storage. The Internet brought live collaboration. Now we’re heading into the fourth era of digital document editing: the era of AI.

The Pre-Internet Era

Wordstar, WordPerfect, Word and other pre-Internet word processing software provided helpful ways to store and backup writing digitally.

The Cloud Era

Google Docs ushered in the next phase with innovative cloud storage enabling you to edit your docs from any device and collaborate in real-time.

The Interactive Era

Notion, Coda, and peer services made docs interactive and multifaceted. They extended how docs work by adding databases, embedded content and more.

The AI Era

Lex, Copy.ai, Canva Docs and other AI-enhanced new doc editing tools mark the start of a radically distinct doc epoch.

In the year ahead, many of us will use AI doc tools to help with the following::

  • Summarize your raw notes and help you organize ideas.
  • Provide title suggestions when you’re brainstorming effective subject lines.
  • Adjust the style of your text so you can see how it would sound if written more casually, in a more professional tone, or in another style of your choice.
  • Make edit suggestions pointing out ways you can word things more effectively or concisely, expanding on prior tools like Grammarly.
  • Suggest text when you need help with marketing slogans for an ad campaign, rhymes for a holiday party poem, or a phrase that explains an abstract idea.
  • Suggest or create related images, charts or graphics to accompany your text.
  • Answer factual questions as you work so you don’t have to flip to Google.

This article is republished with permission from Wonder Tools, a newsletter that helps you discover the most useful sites and apps. Subscribe here.



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