Every writer has their own struggles with reaching goals. And it can be for a number of reasons, whether you don't have the time, feel like you are stuck or writing doesn't seem as fun anymore. One way to help put the joy back into your craft is to gamify your writing. And this is true whether you write for yourself or if you are seeking publication.
What does it mean to gamify your writing?
To gamify something simply means adding game-like elements to any activity in order to make it more enjoyable. This can be adding competition, creating incentives or rewards, or adding little games like they do on the website 4thewords.
This is a non-sponsored post btw but I love how they use a timer so you feel as though you are racing against the clock to defeat the "monsters" that will allow you to progress through the various narratives they offer. It is a really neat incentive to write so that you can get to see more of the universe within the site.
Ways you can gamify your process:
Writing sprints are when you set a timer and choose to write within that time. As they are, they already add a bit of play to the writing process, however you can do more. There are a few ways that you can gamify sprints. One way would be to set a word count goal for each sprint that you run. For example, you can say "In these 15 minutes, I will write 300 words" or whatever sounds reasonable, but also a bit out of your comfort zone. (You want to make sure that whatever your goal is, it is one that forces you to really buckle down and write!)
Another method to gamify sprints is to give yourself both a goal and reward. Say to yourself, "If I get 300 words or more for the next five sprints, I'll ____" and you can fill in the blanks for yourself. Make sure it is representative of the work you've accomplished but enough of an incentive for you to drive toward that goal. And one way to make it even more of a challenge is to shorten the sprints each time. The first can be 20, then 15, then 10 and so on and so on.
You can also find someone to sprint with you! This makes it fun and allows you to "compete" in a low stakes way. You can simply run sprints and give each other a word count at the end of the sprint or you can delve deeper. Try whoever gets the least amount of words has to read a line from what they just wrote. You can choose what type of line it is or go into specifics with your writing partner. It is a great way to get light feedback and add words to your draft.
This may sound a bit childish at first, but I am a huge supporter of rewarding yourself for what you do. (Even if that annoying voice in your head tells you that you should be doing it anyway.)
If you are artistically inclined, you may even want to create badges for yourself of craft trophies/ribbons. For those of us less inclined, a sheet with gold stickers (or whatever puts a smile on your face) will do.
Keep in mind that this is something that can be done for every manuscript. Some examples of badges you can "earn" are:
Wrote 1,000 Words in One Sitting
Made it to Act 2
Finished Draft 1
50,000 Words Down
In all honesty, the possibilities are endless and that just means they can be personalized for you. If you are someone who typically writes 2,000 words in a sitting, you may not feel the desire to create that badge for yourself. No need to waste the gold stars! These rewards are for things that really speak to you. Let's say you are writing in a genre you are unfamiliar with, there may be more awards for that. If you typically write cozy mystery, you writing an action sequence might be badge-worthy. If you are all about tragic science fiction tropes, writing a meet-cute may get you a golden ribbon!
I am pretty simple and so what I did is made up a doc on Canva, printed it out and whenever I reach one of my goals, I put a little star on top!
It can be as complex or as simple as you like.
Does it actually help?
In my experience, it definitely does. As a slightly competitive person, I enjoy having that edge even if the only person that I am competing against is myself.
Gamifying is about getting words on the page, but more importantly it is to help you get back into writing and make it fun for you.
However, please keep in mind that the point of gamifying your process is to encourage you to write and make it fun, not to cause you stress or anxiety. So, if you are trying out one of these methods and it makes you stressed, stop. Maybe there are other methods that work better for you. Writing isn't a one-size-fits-all vocation.
At the end of the day, gamifying is also about rewards, not penalties. So don't fret over what happens if you don't write 300 words in 5 minutes. Instead, rejoice that you wrote something! And shoot for it next time!
I hope these tips help you reach your goals! Let me know below in the comments. If this helped you and you want to say thanks, you can check me out on K0-Fi.