I am a Frontend developer by trade and not a natural writer. However, I have been doing this for long enough that I feel I have some wisdom to share that could potentially be useful for other developers in the industry. There is a sense of community in the Frontend Web Developer world and I have learnt so much from it, I think it only fair that I give back something. However small that may be.
Writing is hard
I will be honest, this isn't the first time I have tried to have a blog on my personal website. I tried it before quite a few times and it all started out with great enthusiasm and dreams of grandeur but after a few weeks that quickly fizzled out as the reality hit me that I would actually have to put some work into this.
After the third failed attempt to get a blog going I took a step back and started analysing what was preventing me from becoming consistent with this whole blog thing. A number of thoughts struck me:
- Writing is hard.
- Even when I had an idea, getting the ball rolling and actually writing some content was often the most difficult part. Just the thought of writing something often prevented me from actually writing anything.
- Difficulties within the process like:
- Publishing images easily
- Finding images easily that were original and didn't have copyright concerns
- Having a good WYSIWYG that included Codeblocks, Images, Quote etc
- Just understanding what is needed from a tech point of view to make a blog
Dealing with Procrastination
The first two points above really stumped me until ChatGPT came out. I liked the idea of writing but did I actually like writing? I knew I kinda liked writing but it takes time to warm up and get things flowing on a page. Also, sometimes the brain just isn't functioning particularly well and some assistance is needed. Oh, and I procrastinated... A LOT.
It all started out with great enthusiasm and dreams of grandeur but after a few weeks that quickly fizzled out as the reality hit me that I would actually have to put some work into this
This is ChatGPT's definition of procrastination:
Procrastination is the act or habit of delaying or postponing tasks, decisions, or actions. It often involves putting off important or necessary work in favor of more pleasurable or less challenging activities. Procrastination can lead to negative consequences, such as increased stress, lower productivity, missed deadlines, and reduced overall success in personal or professional life.
Sounds pretty accurate to me...
This is where ChatGPT came to the rescue. It gives you that starting paragraph or phrase and this is how I now begin writing most of my blog posts.
How I use ChatGPT
I will be very honest here, about 40-50% of each blog post came from ChatGPT or was initially written by ChatGPT and then I modified it. I personally don't see a problem with this and the way I have decided to use it. I use ChatGPT for definitions (Eg. What is git?) and sometimes for some good SEO description text or rewrite an introduction for me. ChatGPT is damn good with words! There is no denying it. Look at what it can do with my opening paragraph of this blog if I ask it to write it in the style of Hunter S. Thompson:
In the belly of the digital beast, I exist as a Frontend developer - a far cry from a goddamn literary prodigy. Regardless, after countless hours spent tangled in this web, I've managed to amass a collection of insights that might salvage some lost souls in this deviant tech wasteland. You see, amidst the chaos of ones and zeros, there blooms a perverse camaraderie amongst us Frontend web deviants, and it's high time I pay my unholy dues. No matter how meager my twisted wisdom may be, I shall cast it upon the ether to be devoured by those who find solace in this forsaken world.
I mean come on! That is so cool. What an amazing piece of tech we now have at our fingertips. Why would we not use it?
Midjourney to the rescue with Images
I am of the opinion that images make a blog post better. Maybe I have been influenced too much by medium.com or other such sites but for me images add visual appeal to blog posts, making them more attractive and engaging for readers.
I also asked ChatGPT about this and they gave many good reasons for having images in your blog posts such as:
Better reader retention: Images can help hold the interest of readers, encouraging them to stay on your blog longer and explore more of your content.
So you see, ChatGPT is on the same page here with me. We're becoming good buddies I have to say!
Unfortunately ChatGPT is limited to mere words. OpenAI do have Dall-E
but from my experience the images aren't the greatest. I am sure it will get better but at this point in time (24th April 2023) I prefer Midjourney
I can type in a relatively simple prompt and it gives me back some original (highly debatable!!!) image which I can then use on my blog post. I am not a huge fan of the whole Discord interface usage in order to generate these images but until they release an API I guess I don't have a choice.
For this blog post you can see my prompt below:
Midjourney then spits out four different images and I decide on which one I prefer (if any) and then choose some variations of the one I selected. Midjourney then spits out four more images which I can then choose from. With the final image chosen, I take the url from Midjourney and upload the image to Cloudinary. I don't want to rely on Midjourney's cdns for my blog post images. Who knows what the future holds for companies like this.
I see things like ChatGPT and Midjourney as tools which can be utilised to increase quality and efficiencies in certain areas of workflows. I have read enough on the internet to realise that opinions on the usage of AI for writing content is divisive at best. Many people believe that if every word is not hand crafted from a human's brain then it is somehow inauthentic. I don't agree with this view but I also empathise with this point of view. It can lead to a slippery slope where eventually 90% of content on the internet is produced by Large Language Models. What happens to originality then? Will anyone actually be reading anything? Or will it have the exact opposite effect where the whole quality of content on the internet raises by a noticeable margin?
Who knows? But for me right now, it's helping me produce (what I believe is) useful content for other developers. This to me is the most important thing at the moment.