Bells and Whistles: Habitca for Fantasy Writers

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

Goal Planning Advice: Getting Through a Rough Draft

It’s easy to say “I want to write a novel” or “I want to be a blogger” or even “I want to grow my following” and it’s much harder achieve these goals.  Today, I want to talk about how to set and achieve goals. 

  1. Have a clear image of what a successful end would look like.  Today’s end goal will be “I want to complete my first draft.”
  2. Create a deadline.  For example: “I want a rough draft at the end of the year.”  My “big goals” are always end of the year goals.  Thinking ahead more than a year makes me sad and anxious.  It’s too big and there are too many places where the plan could go awry.  You have to find your own large goal sweet spot.  Maybe you’ve got what it takes for the five-year plan or maybe you only want 30-90 days.
  3. Create goals and timelines for each chunk.  You might use your story arc to create these goals.  Like if you have a three act story, you want to spend 3 months writing the intro 4 months writing the middle and 5 months writing the back third.  Or you might break the book by chapters and decide to write 2-3 chapters a month.  Personally, I use straight word counts, but everyone will have their own organization.
  4. Identify any stumbling blocks in achieving your goal.  I can type about 1,000 words an hour once I get into a groove.    What holds me up is research. 
  5. Create a way to move around the “hard parts.” To succeed in my plans, I need to limit my research or mark-up areas where I’ll need to verify or detail out in a second draft (if I even keep whatever scene it is).  Besides that, I need to set a timer when I start researching.  No more than 45 minutes of impromptu studying.  Any more time needs to be scheduled and accounted for.
  6. Schedule time to meet your goals.  I can’t write my rough draft every day.  Instead, I’ve scheduled time each week to write and I stick with a weekly word count goal.  My goal is 3,200 words a week.  To reach my goal I’d only need to write about 2,700 words a week, but I’m setting up a safety net with a larger goal.  This way if my story is longer than I thought or if I fall short some weeks, I could still finish my project.
  7. Actually block out the time you plan to use each day/week/month and keep a reminder near you.  Trying something new? I recommend that at first you give yourself double whatever the amount of time you think you need.  If that’s too much time awesome! 
  8. If double the time doesn’t complete your task, relax.  Your experience is normal, don’t be discouraged.  I recommend backing off your yearly goal and just spending a month recording your process.  How far do you get in each writing session?  How long are the sessions, are shorter or longer spurts better for you?  Are there times of day that make writing easier?  Use this self-knowledge to create a more realistic plan and goal for you.  Remember if at first you don’t succeed; you just need a different plan! 

7 January Calls for Submission: Jess Edition

January 7th

Fiend and Furrows II: 4,000-8,0000 looking for folk horror words pays $.04 a word

January 15th

Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse: 4,000-8,000 words just a person who identifies as female and her cat(s) at the end of the world pays royalties

AE Micro: 200 words theme “stars” pays $.10 word with minimum $20 for very short stories

Atthis Arts: 3,000 word maximum “magical pen” uplifting not horror or gore. $.08 a word

January 30th

Kyanite Press: 2,500-15,000 words with a dystopian post apocalypse themed “shattered worlds” pays royalties

January 31st

Dragon Soul Press: 5,000-15,000 words “reign of queens” pays royalties