5 Ways Gamification Can Transform Your Writing
Does your writing need a jolt? A shake-up? Anything to make it fun again?
So you’re not writing, but it’s not because you don’t like to write anymore. You wouldn’t take the time to read this blog post if writing is just a hobby that’s fading from your life. You’ve just reached that phase of writing we all hit from time to time: writer’s block.
Simply put, your approach to writing has gone stale. But instead of pointing fingers at your writing, or even yourself, take a look at how your life has changed since you’ve lost your creativity. There’s a strong possibility that your writing habits (or lack thereof) don’t work anymore because something in your life has changed and you haven’t adjusted your writing habits so that it continues to fit in your life—and on your priority list.
That’s where gamification comes into play (pun intended).
Don’t scrap your story or swear to never write another word. Perhaps all your writing needs is a little more playfulness.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not, in any way, endorsed by any of the websites/products listed in this blog post.
Let’s Define Gamification First
Gamification is transforming something that already exists—say, an online community, an app, a website, a team, an activity—by integrating game structure with the goal of growing participation, engagement and loyalty. Companies and non-profits alike use this to boost their member loyalty programs, increase internal sales / revenue numbers and improve customer engagement.
In short, gamification takes all the elements we love about storytelling and infuses it in every aspect of the process.
This probably sounds familiar to you. If you’ve ever earned points, collected badges or competed for first place on a leaderboard, then you’ve been a willing participant in the gamification environment.
Ever signed up for your library’s summer reading program? Ever participated in NaNoWriMo? Both apply gamification into the experience.
While gamification has evolved in shape and form in almost every aspect of our lives, the approach is the same in every successful instance:
- You play by a set of established rules
- There is a prized goal that everyone shares
- There is a reward for reaching the goal (and sometimes milestones along the way)
Easy, right? Keep this in mind as we go through ways you can add gamification to your writing.
If your goal is to write daily, I recommend starting with this idea.
750 Words is designed around the simple concept of writing three pages a day (around 750 words). This online platform is a private space where you can write (no publishing, no one can see it) so that you can hold yourself to writing daily.
Here’s how it embraces the gamification process:
- You earn points based on your commitment to your daily writing habit
- You can dissect the data of your writing to learn more about yourself, such as your mindset while writing, topics covered and emotions conveyed
- You can track your writing efficiency on your dashboard to discover the peaks and dips during your writing session.
Compete Against Your Friends
What makes a game exciting is having competition, especially with people you know. Start up a challenge within your writing community so that everyone is more motivated to write.
Don’t forget to establish the following before launching your challenge:
- What is the goal?
- What is the reward for reaching the goal?
- What are the set of rules that everyone will respect?
Your goal can vary, from reaching a determined word count first to writing the most words within a specific time-frame. For a more everyone-can-be-a-winner challenge, set the goal to be reaching the amount of words by a certain end date.
Here’s where it gets tricky. I can’t find a free platform where a team can create a leaderboard designed for this kind of challenge (if you know of any, please leave a comment below and I’ll update my post). An easy, basic way to get your challenge off the ground is to use an online document that everyone can share and edit, such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Word Online.
Role Play It
Transform your writing goal into a noble quest!
You don’t need to be a fantasy fan to love this website. Habitica provides a role-playing environment for your goals, be it self-care or your career or your health or your creativity.
Just design a little pixelated avatar before you can create daily goals, habits and to-dos to make your goal happen. When you complete your tasks and reinforce good habits, you are rewarded with experience points and gold. Experience points lets you level up your toughness and coolness in the Habitica universe and gold gets you a better costume and equipment. Slack off on your daily goals or fall back into bad habits and you’ll see a decrease in your health meter.
I’m surprised more writers aren’t using this platform.
You can enhance your experience by recruiting other writers to join a party to tackle quests together (or simply to hold each other accountable). This platform is free, and there are paid subscription options as well as ways to buy yourself more digital avatar swag, should you want to help keep the website alive.
I came across this idea as a way to promote reading more in the summer. Why not writing too?
Print out a blank Bingo board. Aside from the free middle space, fill each empty box with a daily writing challenge for you to conquer, be it a place where you write or how you write.
I even created a summer writing bingo card for me to tackle this summer!
Before you begin, decide the reward for yourself whenever you reach five in a row as well as a grand prize for completing the board. That way, you are more motivated to play and stick to the challenge.
Be creative with your mini writing challenges. Make sure the daily dares are both challenging and realistic to attain so that you don’t ditch the game.
And spaces should never be used as mockery against people you know, Nicole and Rob.
Roll the Dice
Sometimes you need to leave your story to chance. There are specially-designed dice with pictures carved upon them so that you can create a story based on what you roll.
There are many ways to play this. The most popular dice-based versions are Rory’s Story Cubes (actual dice) and Story Dice (digital app). I’ve discovered even more storytelling card games from internet searching if that’s more your style of gaming.
You can also use regular dice to write yourself out of a story snag. Let’s say you haven’t been able to advance your story because you don’t know what your character should do or say next. Stop pondering and leave it to one die:
- Make a list of six possible solutions to your writing problem, numbered 1–6.
- Roll the die.
- Apply the solution that corresponds with the number on the die.
- If the rolled solution doesn’t pan out, roll again and select another solution.
- Repeat with a new set if your story runs into another snag.
This is a way to get you unstuck if you’re struggling with the pattern of storytelling. If nothing else, it lets you create a story.
There is also 4thewords (https://app.4thewords.com/home), true gamification where you slay monsters with your word count…