Habitica is a free online site (and phone app because everything is a phone app right now) that allows you to write goals and track your progress. Like all progress trackers, Habitica gives users satifaction by checking off completed tasks and clearing a dashboard. More than just checking a box, the site gives the user points that allows them to customize and build a small fantasy character. Doing dishes or completing a writing goal isn’t just exciting in its own sake, now your little character can level up to achieve better armor or a better attack. While “gamifying” work can appeal to anyone, I thought the fantasy character nature may appeal to fantasy or scifi writers.
There are three styles of habits one can write.
“Habits” or goals that a user strives to repeat daily or 2-3 times a week. They are important but the user doesn’t want to be penalized if they don’t get around to completing these things every day. Instead the habits will color coat, suggesting how good a person is at completing them but not setting anyone back if they don’t get to an item every day.
“Dailies” are mandatory tasks that renew each day. If you DO NOT complete them, they will negatively impact your little avatar. This is a more carrot/stick method of goal planning where completing the goals gives your character great bonuses but forgetting to do them too often will lead to your avatar passing out.
“To-Dos” are one time, one-day style tasks. Finishing them is epic, but there’s no set timeline on getting to them and there is no need to repeat the tasks.
How I use Habitica as a writer
While I first used Habitica for the “Dailies” section. Forcing myself to either “put up or shut up,” I find it’s healthier for me to use the “Habits” and “To-Do” sections. It makes me less likely to micro manage my time or fill up my goal list with things I KNOW I will complete so I can collect the points. Checking off boxes and making plans makes me feel good and sometimes I’ll make a ton of plans instead of working on anything. Habitica enables this kind of behavior, so if this is you, beware.
I use the “Habits” section to suggest things I like “check social media X for X amount of time,” “respond to 2 people in y forum,” or “write x amount of words this week.” Habitica can also be a reminder system. It helps me remember to focus on general life or well-being items outside of writing specific goals.
Sometimes Habitica is just a tracking system. If I am trying to decide between projects I wanted to work on, I might create a habit for each book/story and see which one I checked off the most.
I planned to use the “To-Dos” to manage all my creative writing ideas, but it’s unnecessary. I’m excited about all my story ideas and can just keep a running paper list. I jump into creative projects without problem. Instead my “To-Dos” fill with ideas for blog posts and suggestions regarding what to edit next. This way when I schedule time to write up blog posts, I don’t waste time wondering what topics to cover.
Overall, Habitica has helped me stay organized and focused as a writer. While any list could do this. There is extra incentive to do well when there’s a cute little avatar face staring back at me asking for the next couple points to level up. I realize this won’t work for everyone, but if you’re in a rut, it might be worth trying.
Talk to me! Do you use any habit trackers in your writing? Do you use a planner at all or does all structure repel you? How do you feel about deadlines and goals when it comes to your writing or creative process?
Looking for more productivity and planning goodness? Check out my 2019 Goals Review. I’ve got a post on my 2020 writer’s goals, how I’m tracking those goals, and I have some advise on how to plan a rough draft for aspiring writers.