Writing an Essay with ChatGPT

ChatGPT is a language model that you can use by talking to it. A language model in such a scale can naturally produce fluent text that is difficult to tell apart from work by humans. If you want to use it for a task, you will likely still need to provide detailed instructions. Moreover, you should also not expect it to replace humans entirely. You would likely need to do the final polishing.

In the following, you will use ChatGPT to produce an essay. Specifically, you will learn

  • How to guide break down your task into steps for ChatGPT
  • How to guide ChatGPT step by step to make an essay

Get started and apply ChatGPT with my book Maximizing Productivity with ChatGPT. It provides real-world use cases and prompt examples designed to get you using ChatGPT quickly.

Let’s get started.

Writing an Essay with ChatGPT
Picture generated by the author using Stable Diffusion. Some rights reserved.


This article is divided into four parts; they are:

  • Topc of the Essay
  • Straightforward Instruction
  • Guiding ChatGPT to Write Step-by-Step
  • How It Works

Topic of the Essay

For example, consider the sample task for GRE analytical writing. It is part of the Graduate Record Examination for college students applying for admission to graduate schools. It aims to demonstrate the ability to explain your reasoning in a statement. A high-score essay should provide relevant reasons to support your point of view but avoid overly general examples without expansion.

Consider the statement in the GRE sample:

As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.

Let’s see how ChatGPT responds if you ask it to write such an essay.

Straightforward Instruction

The simplest way of using ChatGPT is to ask it to give you an essay directly by the following prompt:

Write an essay in support of the following statement:
As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.

Instructing ChatGPT to write the entire essay

The result would differ each time you run it due to the system’s randomness. One result would be the following:

The increased reliance on technology in modern times has undoubtedly made life easier for people. From automated manufacturing processes to virtual personal assistants, technology has become an integral part of our lives. However, as people become increasingly dependent on technology to solve problems, the question arises: will our ability to think for ourselves deteriorate?

It is a well-established fact that the human brain is like a muscle that needs regular exercise to remain strong and healthy. When we solve problems using our own mental faculties, we are essentially exercising our brain and enhancing our cognitive abilities. However, when we rely solely on technology to solve problems, we are not using our own brainpower and are essentially outsourcing our thinking to machines.

One of the most significant consequences of relying too much on technology is the deterioration of critical thinking skills. Critical thinking involves analyzing and evaluating information, identifying biases and assumptions, and making informed judgments based on evidence. When we rely on technology to solve problems, we tend to become passive consumers of information, accepting whatever the technology presents to us without questioning its accuracy or reliability. This lack of critical thinking can lead to poor decision-making and an inability to solve complex problems on our own.

Moreover, technology can also contribute to a decline in creativity and innovation. When we use technology to solve problems, we are limited by its capabilities and functionalities. In contrast, when we think for ourselves, we are free to explore new and unconventional ideas and come up with creative solutions to problems. Overreliance on technology can stifle our creativity and prevent us from discovering new and innovative solutions to the challenges we face.

Another negative consequence of relying too much on technology is the loss of social skills. Social interaction is essential for the development of interpersonal skills, such as communication, empathy, and conflict resolution. When we rely on technology for communication, we miss out on the subtle nuances of face-to-face interaction, which are critical for building meaningful relationships. This can lead to a lack of social skills and difficulty in building and maintaining relationships with others.

In conclusion, while technology has undoubtedly made our lives easier and more convenient, it is important to recognize the potential negative consequences of overreliance on technology. As we continue to integrate technology into our lives, we must ensure that we do not become overly dependent on it to solve problems. We must continue to exercise our critical thinking skills, nurture our creativity, and maintain our social skills to ensure that we remain competent and independent problem solvers.

This looks very natural and not bad as an essay. But indeed, it is not top-notch. You can get a better essay if you know how to ask better.

Guiding ChatGPT to Write Step-by-Step

A language model can generate text based on the context. In the example of ChatGPT, the context is the recent dialog between you and the system. Moreover, the response from ChatGPT is not produced all at once, but one token at a time. Therefore, it remembered what it said in the previous sentence, for example.

Because of that, it is difficult to “fine-tune” the answer if it gives you a large piece of text. It is easier to break down a large writing task into smaller parts.

For the same topic as above, you can do it as follows:

Give me 3 paragraphs in support of the following statement, one argument in each paragraph:
As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate.

And now it produces the following:

Paragraph 1: As technology becomes more advanced, it is easier for people to rely on it to solve problems. This can lead to a lack of critical thinking skills because people may not be challenged to solve problems on their own. For example, people who use GPS to navigate may not develop spatial awareness or map-reading skills, which are important for problem-solving in many areas of life. In addition, people who rely on calculators or computer programs to do math may not develop strong mental math skills or an understanding of mathematical concepts. As a result, their ability to think independently and solve problems may deteriorate.

Paragraph 2: In addition to reducing critical thinking skills, technology can also have a negative impact on creativity. When people rely on technology to solve problems, they may become less likely to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions. This is because they are used to following pre-determined algorithms or solutions provided by technology. This can be seen in the world of art, where digital tools can be used to create artwork quickly and easily. While these tools can be useful, they may also limit creativity by making it easier to create conventional or derivative works.

Paragraph 3: Finally, the over-reliance on technology can lead to a reduction in social skills. As people spend more time communicating through screens and devices, they may have less practice interacting with others face-to-face. This can make it harder for them to understand social cues, empathize with others, and develop strong relationships. In addition, people who rely on technology for social interaction may be more likely to experience feelings of loneliness and isolation. This can have a negative impact on mental health, which can, in turn, affect overall cognitive functioning and problem-solving abilities.

It looks better. The first paragraph especially has a concrete example. But no examples are given in the other two paragraphs. Let’s continue on the chat to ask for more examples:

Can you give some concrete examples of how technology negatively impacts creativity?

It answers:

Certainly! Here are a few examples of how technology can negatively impact creativity:

Template-driven design: Many digital tools, such as website builders, offer pre-designed templates that users can customize with their own content. While these templates can be helpful for beginners, they can also stifle creativity by limiting design options and encouraging conformity.

Dependence on filters: Social media platforms like Instagram offer a variety of filters that users can apply to their photos to enhance their appearance. While these filters can be fun to use, they can also discourage creativity by making it easy to create generic, highly stylized images that all look the same.

Auto-correction and predictive text: While these features can be helpful for avoiding typos and speeding up the writing process, they can also lead to a lack of creativity in writing. For example, if someone relies too heavily on auto-correction, they may not take the time to learn proper spelling or grammar, which can limit their ability to express themselves creatively through writing.

Algorithmic recommendations: Streaming services like Netflix and Spotify use algorithms to recommend content to users based on their viewing or listening history. While this can be helpful for discovering new content, it can also limit creativity by promoting similar content and discouraging users from exploring new genres or artists.

Overall, while technology can be a powerful tool for enhancing creativity, it’s important to be aware of its potential limitations and actively work to avoid falling into creative ruts or becoming too dependent on digital tools.

It needs to be more concise since the GRE analytical writing is only roughly 500 to 600 words. However, these examples are helpful. You can further ask for examples regarding the third paragraph it originally produced:

Can you give some concrete examples of how technology can lead to a reduction in social skills? Be brief.

Now it answered:

Sure, here are some examples of how technology can lead to a reduction in social skills:

Overreliance on texting and social media can lead to a lack of face-to-face communication skills and make it harder to pick up on social cues.

Spending excessive amounts of time on screens can lead to social isolation and feelings of loneliness.

The anonymity of online communication can lead to a lack of empathy and an increase in cyberbullying.

Online dating and social networking apps can reduce opportunities for in-person social interaction and make it harder to form deep, meaningful relationships.

Constant access to technology can create a distraction from real-world social situations and lead to a lack of engagement and attention in face-to-face conversations.

That’s good. Note that these examples are not in paragraph form because you needed to specify how ChatGPT should answer. But it is not difficult for you to incorporate these into your essay paragraphs.

Now we still need an introduction and a conclusion to complete the essay. Let’s ask ChatGPT to do these.

Please write an introduction paragraph for the above.

This is what it produced:

Technology has undoubtedly transformed the way we live our lives, from how we work and communicate to how we access information and solve problems. While the benefits of technology are numerous and undeniable, there are also some negative consequences to our over-reliance on digital tools. One such consequence is a reduction in social skills. As people spend more time communicating through screens and devices, they may have fewer opportunities to practice face-to-face communication skills, leading to a decline in social awareness and empathy. In this context, it is worth exploring some concrete examples of how technology can negatively impact our social skills and what we can do to mitigate these effects.

For the conclusion, you want to reference the main content of your essay. You shouldn’t worry since ChatGPT remembers the conversation. You can ask:

Please write a conclusion paragraph to summarize everything above.

and it answered:

In conclusion, while technology has many positive effects on our lives, it is essential to recognize that there are also some negative consequences, such as a reduction in critical thinking skills, creativity, and social skills. Technology can provide shortcuts and instant gratification that can ultimately lead to the erosion of essential skills. It is crucial to be aware of these potential drawbacks and take steps to mitigate their effects, such as setting limits on screen time, engaging in face-to-face communication, and finding ways to use technology in a balanced and mindful way. By doing so, we can continue to benefit from the many advantages of technology while also ensuring that we maintain the skills and connections that make us human.

With a bit of reordering and polishing, you now have a complete essay.

Instructing ChatGPT to write the essay in steps

How It Works

ChatGPT can do this task well because it is trained with a massive dataset. Hence, many “facts” are remembered by the model that helps writing this essay. If you try this with a smaller model, such as those you can run with GPT4All on your computer, you may find the result less informative.

However, based on the principle behind its architecture, words are chosen based on the highest correlation, to both the prompt you provided and the content it generated previously. Therefore, the more precise you set up your prompt, the model should be able to generate a better response.

Nonetheless, you should not expect this to be perfect. Firstly, the prompt has a size limit, so you can never outline all your intent. Secondly, even with no limit, it is difficult to put all details in the prompt due to your cognitive bias. Lastly, due to the training provided to it, such a model would prefer the most common words over the best words for the context. This is also why we found that works produced by ChatGPT can earn a passing grade, but never excellent.


In this post, you discovered how ChatGPT can help you write an essay. In particular, you learned:

  • ChatGPT can write you an essay in one shot with a short guidance
  • You can break down the task into multiple steps to make ChatGPT produce a more detailed response
  • ChatGPT can reference the dialog with you in creating new responses

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2 Responses to Writing an Essay with ChatGPT

  1. Avatar
    Kleinboy Diphoko June 4, 2023 at 12:43 am #

    If ChatGPT writes an essay like the first one for a student and they use that information as it is, wouldn’t it be plagiarism?

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