How to Gamify Writing in 6 Easy Ways

Are you feeling frustrated, anxious, and just downright tired? Chances are you are a writer.

Most people think that writing is a sweet deal, a way to mostly goof off and get paid. Scribble a few words off the top of their heads, and that is all there is to it, right? If only that were true!

The fact is, putting pen to paper (well, figuratively speaking in most case) productively is a difficult task for even the best writers. Edugeeksclub professional writer Andy Pulaski says, “Aside from the mental effort and research involved, you have to go through several drafts, always with an eye on your deadline. You need to do meticulous editing and proofreading, and at the end of the day, the client isn’t happy with it.”

Then there is always the dreaded “writer’s block” that keeps the words from flowing, much like creative constipation. Some people say it is a myth, an excuse to avoid working. If you have ever suffered from the frustration of writer’s block, you know it is a very real problem, especially for writers with a deadline.

However, there are ways to make the writing process less of a hair-pulling task, and more productive. You can think of it in terms of playing a game.

Gamifying writing is fortunately easier than you would think. Numerous tools and apps exist that do exactly that. Here are 6 of the top ways to gamify your writing without breaking a sweat. Read on!

  1. Write or Die 2

This writer’s block busting app means business. It forces you to keep writing whether you feel like it or not because you have a gun to your head (again, figuratively). It will start deleting the words you’ve already written if you slow down or stop, based on the writing pace you set for yourself for a particular writing project.

It currently has three modes: Consequence, Reward, and Stimulus. You can choose any one of them depending on how you define motivation.

In Consequence mode, you will hear an unpleasant sound or see something icky (that you set) like a spider, each time you slacken the pace to prompt you to get going. In Reward mode, you will be presented with something you like, such as the Hallelujah Chorus, or a cute puppy, whenever you achieve a goal. Stimulus Mode, on the other, is not punishment or reward. The app will allow you to set up the interface so keep you focused and, well, stimulated to work.

Write or Die 2 is not for everyone. Some writers like to chew the cud of their work, and may only get stressed with this app. However, it can be very helpful for people experiencing writer’s block, or for those that get easily distracted. The prospect of losing work is always a good kick in the pants,  so while the deleting mechanism may seem counter-intuitive, you would be surprised at how well it works to make you more productive.

  1. Ilys

Many writers tend to second guess themselves when they are working, going over and over what they have already written and tweaking it endlessly instead of getting it done first and then going back to edit it afterward. In that sense, the worst distraction for the writer is the work itself.

Ilys keeps you on the straight and narrow by keeping you from going back over what you have written until you have reached your word count goal. The interface only presents you with one letter that you type at a time, and nothing else.

You cannot see anything that went before it until you finish the piece. You will also not be able to do any formatting, so there are no options or buttons to distract you. Once you have completed your “mission,” then you can start editing.

The main purpose of Ilys is to keep you writing no matter what, and most people get a kick out of looking over what they have written and be surprised at how good it is (bar the inevitable misspellings and verb confusion, of course). You really have no choice but to keep writing until you reach your goal, and you get more done as a result.

  1. Goalscape

Most writers know the value of to-do lists, but most of apps for them are frankly boring, so few of those that do make a list follow it.

Goalscape makes to-do listing a little more interesting by presenting it as a graphical interface. You enter your tasks and it shows them as slices in a pie chart. You can set the size of each slice according to importance, and track progress in completing your tasks for the day by using the slider.

It is a simple app designed to challenge you to complete your “pie” by end-of-day.

  1. Beeminder

If you are serious about becoming more productive, but have a hard time keeping motivated in sticking to it, then you can make it more interesting for yourself by putting your money on the line.

Beeminder is an app that lets you set goals, keeps track of your progress, and penalizes you for not completing a goal by deducting a certain amount of money from your credit card.

It may seem like a scam to get at your hard-earned money, but remember that you set your own goals. If you don’t meet them, then that is all on you. Beeminder uses the money for the upkeep of the service, so it is all fair. If you meet your goals, you make money instead of losing it.

It is a heck of a motivator for most people to meet goals.

  1. Habitica

If you are into role playing games or RPG, then you will like Habitica.

It is essentially a to-do app, but instead of giving you a list to cross out, it presents you with a game where your goals are presented as “monsters” you need to slay to go forward. You can categorize your goals as good Habits your want to form, Dailies which you need to do every day, and To-Dos which are particular goals with deadlines you need to meet.

Habitica is a fun app for getting things done, forming good professional and personal habits, and meeting your deadlines. The fact that it is a actually a game is what makes it a unique addition to this list of tools.

  1. Writing Prompts

You have probably used Reddit for research ideas and sources for your article as well as to take part in spirited discussions. It is probable that you aren’t aware that the website also offers a section called Writing Prompts.

It is especially designed for writers, where users can and post their creative work. It isn’t an app, but it is a good source of inspiration when you’re stuck for one. You can read poems, short stories, and comments by other writers that may guide you on your next project. It is a very stimulating environment to stir the creative juices of any writer.


Writers are uniquely positioned to understand the struggle and frustration of creative constipation and the I’m-not’in-the-zone syndrome. Writing takes a lot of physical and mental effort.

American author Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Gamifying your writing is one way to take the stress and pressure off, and make it easier for you to “bleed.” These six apps and tools can help get you there.


Joan Selby is an ESL teacher and a blogger; a graduate of California Institute of the Arts and a fancy-shoe lover; a writer by day and reader by night, giving a creative touch to everything. Find her on Twitter andFacebook