Routine Writing Review: How To Gamify Blogging And Overcome The Hardest Part Of Gamification
This article is a cross between a review of the WordPress plugin Routine Writing and an article about the difficulties (and goals) of gamification. If you want to learn:
- The problem with gamification
- Why you’d gamify something anyway and how it helps you
- Why you’d get a copy of Routine Writing and how that will help you
Then you should read on. (Also, I’ve thought of a handful of other uses for Routine Writing – keep reading until the end for those.)
I’ve written about gamification a couple of times. You can read the articles I’ve written here:
The reason I’ve written about gamifying your writing (or any other task) is that it’s an easy way to get from having achieved nothing to having achieved a lot without feeling like you’ve done a lot.
The Problem With Gamification
There is one major problem with gamification.
Once you’ve gotten your “game” set up, it’s a really easy process. Whether it’s writing every day, exercising to a schedule or giving yourself a doughnut every time you make a $10 affiliate sale, the nature of gamifying a task means that the steps you take are easy and small.
I’ve set up a ton of “games” in my time. I like building systems out of tasks, and adding a reward to each task – even if it’s a five minute break from working – is an incredibly effective way to make sure the tasks get done.
Now… back to the problem with gamification.
Setting up your system in the first place is a complete pain in the arse.
Sometimes, you’ll create a reward you don’t want.
Maybe another time you’ll create a reward that’s counter-productive.
When you start gamifying things, you can make them too simple or too complex. It’s easy to say, “If I do this, this, this, this and that, then I’ll take myself out to a steak dinner.” All great, except you know full well that you’re hardly ever going to achieve that goal.
When it comes to creating systems and gamifying those systems, you can spend hours trying to come up with an elegant solution that’s actually useful.
Wouldn’t it be nice if more people made their own gamifications available for you to use, straight out of the box?
Enter Routine Writing
Routine Writing is a WordPress plugin created by a friend of the site; James from Red Pill Reviews.
It’s a plugin for your blog that encourages you to write every day and get a streak going. You can set a daily goal and it comes with a little graph that’ll give you an overview of how many words you write each day and how that compares to your goal.
It sounds simple, right?
It is simple… but I prefer the term elegant.
As I wrote in the previous section, it can take you hours – or more – to come up with an easy solution to gamifying your work. Then you can get the game wrong.
For instance, Routine Writing could have been based on blog posts per day. The problem with that would be that you’d get a Yes/No answer, (which isn’t so bad) and you’d be encouraged to write 200 word blog posts (which is bad.)
Routine Writing’s solution is simple and elegant. You set a daily word count. Let’s say it is 500 words – the minimum a blog post should be.
You don’t have to do anything else after that. You simply write, and it automatically counts your words as you type them into the WordPress post creator. This is great… I love stuff that works automatically. I used to type in the word count of every piece I wrote into Excel. I gave up because it was manual and impossible to keep track of. Routine Writing does it for you.
Essentially, you put in your goal. You write. The plugin tells you how much you’ve written on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. It gives you a pretty graph.
The Psychological Effect of Gamifying Writing
Somebody might ask me, “But Jamie… you already write every day. Why would you use this plugin?”
Alright… nobody is going to ask me that. But let’s assume they did.
As a guy who writes pretty much every single day, I can tell you that I don’t need Routine Writing to write every day. Neither do you. You can write without a plugin. You can write without putting it on a blog… Hell, you can even write with a pen and paper and throw your computer out if you want. (I don’t recommend that.)
But Routine Writing isn’t a plugin that’ll force you to write every day. It’s not a boot camp officer that’ll shout at you or call your mother to tell you you’re lazy. (Although you might want to add that in to version 1.1 James!)
Instead, Routine Writing is a visual representation of the work you’re putting in. If you write every day for six months, then you’ll see a lot more traffic to your website. People will comment on your site. It’ll be fantastic.
But what about the 5 months prior to that? Blogging is a long-term game. Naturally human beings want to see short term results. Routine Writing’s little star and graph is a short term result for the writing you’re putting in.
Routine Writing Bridges The Gap
When you start blogging, long term success is at the top of a mountain.
It’s a pretty steep climb. This is especially true if you’re learning about writing and blogging at the same time. There are a ton of little things that are going to frustrate you.
Routine Writing will give you something to show for it.
As you get further up the mountain, you’ll find that your momentum starts to build and the habit propagates itself. Before you know it, you’re posting every day because you’ve gotten to day 290 without missing a single post and trust me; when you get to that point, there are no excuses. You’ve engrained the habit and you won’t let yourself slip.
If you want to get to that point without feeling like you’re walking on hot coals, then making the little victories into a game is an easy way to do that. Routine Writing makes your daily writing goal an easy way to achieve that without having to think about it.
Final Thoughts: Get Routine Writing
Routine Writing costs $17.
That’s a steal.
If you’re like me, paying for plugins is a rare occurrence. After all, there are a million free plugins for WordPress that do all kinds of stuff.
With Routine Writing, you’re not paying for the plugin itself. You’re paying for the game. You’re paying for the little star that says, “You have written a thousand words today, and it feels great, doesn’t it?”
Moreover, you’re paying for a solution that works. As I said at the start of this tangent of a review, you can spend a long time trying to think of a decent way to gamify things. This is a solution in a box. (I guess… though plugins don’t come in boxes.)
If you get Routine Writing, you’re going to turn small short-term successes into long-term successes.
I mean, if you don’t want to do that… I don’t know what to say. So I’ll just say:
P.S. I’m 1200 words into this, and I’m ending this article before I get into my mad scientist routine. There are countless other ways you can exploit this plugin:
- Post your daily score to Twitter or wherever. Let’s raise the bar for everyone.
- Use it to build the habit of blogging. I’ve assumed people already blog. If it’s beyond you, set the target to 100 words a day and get over your writer’s block/whatever’s stopping you from blogging.
- Use it to track your own productivity. Let’s say you have some days where you just can’t seem to write anything. Routine Writing has a calendar… go see if there are any patterns
- Occasionally push yourself to write three or four times your output just to see if you can.
I’ll leave it there. Suffice to say, Routine Writing has a lot of uses in addition to being a great concept and a great plugin. Get it here.