Lesson 8

How to use writing power-ups keep you pumped

Roddy Doyle -- Regard every new page as a small triumph quote

Games designers use power-ups as a way to inject a little adrenaline into gameplay — they stop the game from becoming monotonous and boring, and they give the player something to look forward to so they keep playing.

Psychologist and games designer extraordinaire Dr. Jane McGonigal believes everyone should incorporate power-ups into their everyday lives.

McGonigal writes that while a real-life power-up can be anything, it must be something that’s simple, quick and easy to do. Nothing too costly or too fancy – a small reward or a treat to keep us going and make the writing slog more bearable.

ACTION: Read these 3 tips on setting power-ups

Power-up the effort, not the outcome
The volume of words on a page doesn't measure the amount of effort you put into writing. So, when you’re thinking of when to use your power-up to reward the effort you put in, think input, not output.

Set your goal and power-up at the same time
When setting your writing goal, plan on how you’re going to power-up once you’ve achieved it. Make sure you set an appropriate power-up reward for each daily increment too – then plan a visit to your favorite restaurant to celebrate getting to the last day of the month!

Make sure the reward fits the level of achievement
Taking our inspiration from games design, we think there are four different levels of power-up and once you know what these are then it’s time to start setting the reward that’s appropriate to each.

  • Level 1. Here, doing the writing itself is enough to make you feel pumped. No power-up required.
  • Level 2. Give yourself a level two power-up when you’ve had a good writing session. Treat yourself to something free or inexpensive (think coffee or cupcake) but not so mundane that it’s part of your daily routine.
  • Level 3. Way to go! Make sure you reserve a level three power-up for when you’ve hit an important milestone in your writing.
  • Level 4. Now it’s time to pop open the champagne! Here you deserve a bigger reward – celebrate when you’ve achieved your goal in full.

So, take these tips from games designers – they know a thing or two about how to keep people hooked. A power-up a day can keep the procrastination gremlins away!


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