ChatGPT for Writing and Recommending Books
Nat Eliason shares how he uses the tool as a personal book concierge in the latest episode of ‘How Do You Use ChatGPT?’
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TL;DR: Today we’re releasing a new episode of our podcast How Do You Use ChatGPT?, in which I go in-depth with author Nat Eliason on how he uses ChatGPT to write books and discover new ones to read. Watch on X, YouTube, or Spotify.
Nat Eliason is a shape-shifter. He’s a writer with a book deal from Random House, a crypto trader, a Roam Research aficionado, a marketer, a book podcaster, a parent, and a seed oil iconoclast. For years, he’s published relentlessly on the internet—accumulating thousands of newsletter subscribers, 70,000 X followers, and 100,000 TikTok followers.
Nat just finished writing his book—about his journey through crypto—and he’s starting a sci-fi novel. But joining the dead-tree club hasn’t prevented him from exploring the most interesting tool for thought since Roam fell: ChatGPT.
ChatGPT is now a home-screen app for him—one that he uses every day—and we sat down for a comprehensive interview on how he incorporates it into his routine. Watch him use it to sharpen his ability to describe writing he likes, find new books to read for inspiration, and even outline the story of the new book he’s writing. We also discuss other small but powerful ways that he integrates ChatGPT into his life—from recipe creation to reading the news and settling bar bets. Here’s a taste:
- Recommending books. Nat is an avid reader and has recently turned to ChatGPT to help him find his next book. We discussed not only describing the kind of book you’re looking for, but also working backward based on books you’ve already read and loved: “So being like, ‘My favorite sci-fi books are The Three-Body Problem, Jurassic Park, and The Martian. Who's an author that would be a really good intersection of those three?’”
- A Google alternative. As a former SEO expert, Nat is looking for alternatives to traditional search engines. “I also just don’t trust Google results,” he says. “I’m sometimes disappointed when [ChatGPT] just uses search results… Most of the results on Google are not the best answers to a question—they’re the ones that are best engineered to be there.”
- A recipe-generator. Beyond his reading and writing, Nat has found an everyday use for ChatGPT—in the kitchen: “I have a bunch of ground pork in my freezer because my friend gave me a quarter-pig and I was like, ‘Okay, I want to make something with this, like Asian-style with rice. I also have green onions in the fridge, so give me a recipe.’ And it did—a very simple stir fry.” The results were actually good, he says.
- Unearthing notes. Nat is building a custom GPT to go through all of his book-related notes and reviews, so he can easily surface and analyze them. “It goes through all of my 300-notes pages, finds them, and then pulls out the relevant piece from that book and links to that book,” he says.
- Reading the news. “I don’t follow any news stuff,” Nat admits, “so I’ll just ask ChatGPT to summarize the information for me.” Instead of seeking out information on news websites, he’ll see what ChatGPT can give him.
- Better ways of explaining things. Sometimes Nat needs different ways to say the same thing. Instead of writing that he has a “sinking feeling” in his stomach five different times, Nat will ask ChatGPT for alternative ways of expressing the same sentiment.
- Storytelling advice. Nat gives ChatGPT a story prompt—the plot line of Fight Club, as an example—and asks for tips on how to structure an opening scene. “Feed it the hero’s journey. Feed it the seven-part story structure. Feed it the three-act structure. Feed it the five-act structure. You can give it a bunch of them and see what it comes up with.”
You can watch the episode on Twitter/X, Spotify, or YouTube. Links and timestamps are below:
- Intro 1:08
- Book recommendations based on genre 3:48
- Figuring out your own taste in books 15:27
- Finding recipes for ingredients you already have 19:34
- How he sifts through his own notes 21:50
- How to reformat data 24:19
- How to settle bar bets 25:46
- Summarizing the news 28:40
- How to phrase something differently 29:54
- Writing the opening scene of a novel 31:41
What do you use ChatGPT for? Have you found any interesting or surprising use cases? We want to hear from you—and we might even interview you. Reply here to talk to me!
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