Gamify Writing: Turn Your Writing Into A Game
Gamification is the process of turning things that aren’t games into games. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of this method, and gamify writing all the time. I’ve taken steps to gamify writing for a long time now, but I’ve really nailed down the process and so gamify writing now on a much bigger scale.
In this article, I’ll talk about how this has helped me, why you’d do this and some the steps you can take – or some of the parts of writing that you can gamify.
Just before the New Year, I decided I was going to take a walk every day. My reasons were numerous; exercise, eye health, getting fresh air and the like.
The result though was realising I was terribly unfit. Sure, I do exercise at home (mostly bodyweight stuff) but my cardio was dire. I got to the end of the road (a few hundred metres) and I was feeling a burning in my calves and my heart was beating hard.
I couldn’t have that.
So I got a stopwatch app and started timing myself. I’d time myself each way. I’d start a new lap when I first felt my heart rate go up or my muscles ache. I didn’t push myself, I just observed.
Gradually, I got accustomed to the new exercise. I could then start pushing myself.
I’ve since doubled the distance I walk, and I’ve shaved minutes off the time it takes me to get the distance I need. In short, the process of gamification – or turning exercise into a game – meant that I had better results.
You can apply this to any topic. I’ve been doing this since forever, but working out the principles recently has meant I can turn the process up to full volume.
The most obvious way to gamify writing is by setting a total word count for your day. Whatever happens, you’ll write a thousand words or two, five or ten thousand words or whatever.
Here’s the key though: Make it achievable without changing a thing.
We’re not going to sign up for a hundred metre sprint against Usain Bolt never having ran before.
Instead, we need to gamify writing by observing first; what are you doing, and how can you make that into a game with a score?
If you write an average of five hundred words per day, then your goal is to write five hundred words.
If you do that every day without fail, then you’ve achieved your objective.
In week two, you can use the baseline habit to up your target to 750 words. Even if you don’t change a single habit, you’ll find yourself achieving the goals and they’ll creep up so subtly that you’ll look back in a month and wonder how you ever worried about achieving those first targets. You’ll get a dopamine hit from achieving every micro-goal as well, so you’ll be pretty happy about things.
Word totals aren’t the only way to gamify writing. Here are some other ideas:
- Words per hour.
- Amount of writing sessions in a day.
- How many spelling mistakes you make when typing.
- How many drafts you need before your writing is publish-ready.
- How quickly you do the boring bits like formatting or research.
- How long each project (chapter/article/book) takes.
- How quickly you can find reference materials.
- Your planning to writing ratio.
- How naturally you add in all the different components of a good piece of writing.
- How many days you can consecutively do any of the above.
Just like I mentioned above with the exercise, you’ll find that if you consciously (and even subconsciously) think about some of the things in the last section, you’ll find your brain re-ordering itself so that you can do better.
If you choose, for instance, to up your word count per hour, you’ll find that after you establish a base line of a few hours, you’ll start to see it gradually go up.
The major benefit of this is that it’ll happen largely as a by-product of your regular schedule.
Once you’ve started seeing your “score” creep up and up, you’ll find that you can either switch your attention to another facet of writing, or you’ll find that you can really specialise in getting the numbers up.
The benefits of this on your writing are almost untold!
(P.S. I can go into each of the different “games” in more detail if anybody wants. Just let me know in the comments.)