“Can you get ChatGPT to write like you?” is probably the question that I get asked more than any other in my webinars. And the answer I give is yes – or at least it can get about 80% or 90% of the way there.

But you can’t expect it to imitate your writing straight away – you need to prompt it and guide it towards copying your writing style. 

If you want to embark on that process and get ChatGPT to imitate how you write, here’s how to go about it.

1. Feed it your writing

The first step in guiding ChatGPT towards writing like you is to give it some of your previous writing. This could be articles you’ve written, emails, notes, essays or whatever. The more you can give it, the better. Ask it to make a note of your style and to try to replicate it whenever it responds. I regularly paste past articles, emails and other writing I’ve produced into ChatGPT and ask it to analyse them.

Just remember, though, you’ll need to do it all in a single chat window, as it won’t remember between sessions (although see point 3 below).

Example prompt: I’m going to paste some samples of my writing here. I want you to analyse this and emulate my style. Do you understand?: [Insert text].

2. Give it a style guide

Most companies have a style guide that dictates the language that should be used when writing in their brand’s name. You can feed it this, but why not have a personal style guide you give to ChatGPT, too?

Use your personal style guide to instruct ChatGPT on what you prefer when it comes to tone, phrasing, punctuation and even your writing idiosyncrasies – like the kinds of synonyms or analogies you use or how you sign off emails.

Giving ChatGPT this blueprint helps make sure its responses align more closely with your writing style.

Example prompt: I’m going to give you a style guide. Whenever you respond to me, you must follow this. Do you understand? [Insert style guide].

3. Take advantage of custom instructions

Probably the most annoying thing about writing with  ChatGPT is that every time you open a new chat, it immediately forgets everything you told it in the past.

That’s right. You can give ChatGPT hundreds of thousands of instructions. You can reveal your innermost thoughts, fears and feelings. Then, the moment you open a new window, it forgets it ever knew about you.

Yep, ChatGPT behaves like the worst kind of person: the kind who treats you like a king or queen. Then, the next day, when you see out in public, it blanks you altogether. “I’m sorry, have we met?”. 

Well, now that’s changed…

‘Custom instructions’ is a relatively new feature you’ll find by clicking on the bottom left corner of your screen. It consists of two questions: “What would you like ChatGPT to know about you to provide better responses?” and “How would you like ChatGPT to respond?”

Use this to tell ChatGPT who you are (well, as much as you’re comfortable with), who you’re writing for, what your goals are and how it should write. For instance, paste your style guide here so it remembers it across every chat, and let it know some of the audiences you’re writing for and how you want to communicate to them.

4. Keep giving feedback

If you’re going to master ChatGPT, you’re going to have to be patient. It’s unlikely to nail your writing style at first go, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Be prepared to critique its responses and guide it towards better ones.

If it’s off-mark, explain why (the more detail you can give it, the better) and ask it to try again. If it comes close, tell it what you liked and what should be rewritten. By going through this iterative process, it will start to refine its output and give you a better result.

Example prompt: I’m going to rewrite the sentence you just gave me in my style and paste it back here. Can you tell me the differences? Can you apply these differences to all your future responses? Here is your sentence: [“insert sentence”], and here is mine [“insert sentence”].

5. Be specific

In my brief time practising law, I was taught that the golden rule of cross-examination was to never ask open-ended questions. Doing so would give the witness too much wiggle room, the reasoning went. This meant they could potentially tell a story very different from the one you wanted them to. 

It’s the same with ChatGPT. Asking open-ended questions may be great for brainstorming and idea generation, but they’re terrible for guiding it towards a result that you already have in mind.

For instance, simply saying something like “Write responses as if you were me” could lead to anything. Get into the nitty gritty, and tell it as much about what you want as you can. 

Example prompt: “When you explain this, use short, energetic sentences and pop culture references (particularly to music, film and television of the 1980s and 1990s) in the same way I do.”

6. Give it context

ChatGPT always responds best when it has a clear understanding of the context in which you’re communicating. Before you dive into the details, provide ChatGPT with any necessary background, such as why you’re writing a particular piece and what you hope to get out of it. 

By doing this, you’re shaping its understanding and, therefore, any subsequent output so that it aligns more closely with your style and intentions.

Example prompt: “I’m writing an article about the benefits of renewable energy. I want readers to take from this that a renewable future is not only inevitable but that it will happen sooner than many people think. Although my subject matter may be dry, I like to spice it up with low-culture references. I also take a playful yet informed tone. Can you give me an introduction that matches my style?”

7. Be realistic

Finally, ChatGPT is a fantastic writing tool, but it’s not a miracle worker. Human writers can’t always copy other styles perfectly. Most documents produced by organisations go through many layers of review to make sure they adhere to house style. And even then, they don’t always get it right.

Go in with the same mindset and be prepared to do a bit of editing and guiding at your end. If you do, you’re likely to find ChatGPT will get close to how you write reasonably quickly.

Then, with some patience and fine-tuning, you can make it even better still.

Want more?

Our AI Writing Seminars have been getting rave reviews. (One attendee said it was “the best money they’d spent in 10 years of business”).

Now, we’re offering a version aimed specifically at getting the most out of writing with ChatGPT for marketing.

A Marketers Guide to Writing With AI

When: Tuesday 26 September 2023
Time: 12.30 pm
You’ll learn how to use ChatGPT to:

  • write engaging marketing content fast.
  • generate fresh ideas for campaigns and content marketing.
  • improve the quality of your writing across different platforms.
  • engage your target audiences.
  • maintain brand consistency.

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Ralph Grayden

Ralph Grayden

Ralph Grayden is content director at Antelope Media.