Gaming The System: NanoWriMo Gamification

When it comes to NanoWriMo, the surface becomes a battle of your own will power. Writing 50,000 words in a month can seem daunting. In my mind this can be achieved in a silo, but it not anywhere close to satisfying unless you share the journey with someone else.

Luckily the fine folks at NanoWriMo know this. They have established strong gamification on the site. This is an effort to engage with all of their users by instituting gaming elements into the whole ordeal. Here are some of them and why they matter.


There will likely be some debate here as to the value prop of earning badges. When you really boil it down you are being handed a “sticker” or “medal” that proves you reached some milestone. On NanoWriMo these include badges you can give yourself (writers are so vain!) as well as badges awarded based on the writing plateaus you achieve as you write your way through the month.

As silly as it sounds, there is certainly a feeling of pride when you are told you hit the 25,000-word badge. Halfway to the end! Now if they could send me a cookie and a bourbon too, then we will have reached true gamification bliss.


Sure badges are fun, but at the end of the day they don’t mean a whole lot outside of the NanoWriMo homepage. What really makes a difference is the ability to add writing buddies to your nano profile.

For me and my writing group, this is a game changer! (see what I did there?) Being able to track my friends word count as compared to mine is the ultimate in competition. Even if Chris is constantly rubbing it in our face that he is ahead of all of us  ;P

This is the part of the site that I am constantly monitoring. Where am I in relation to my friends. It is motivating to know that I am “beating” someone or it gives me a reason to stay up later and push myself to get more words for the day.

I recently downloaded an iOS app called Nano Saga ($.99) that hooks into your buddy list and give you a simple snapshot of your progress compared to that of your buddy list. It’s a nice quick way to check my status among the group when I am out and about. I recommend it for those of you that are obsessed with WC like I am!

If you don’t have any buddies, what are you waiting for!? Add me, iancahill


The best thing in the world is crossing the finish line.  The team at NanoWriMo know this as well. They do a great job at rewarding those that finish the task at hand. Not only do you get a Winner’s badge that lives on the site year round, but you are offered an exclusive t-shirt only for winners.

In addition to that, they word hard to provide winner’s with special offers and discounts from a slew of literary outlets to make you feel special for finishing. The first year I did NanoWriMo I was able to purchase Scrivener for 50% off. It was a nice thank you for a job well done.   

So take advantage of the game and make NanoWriMo as fun as it can be. Some days are hard for sure, but they make finishing SO AWESOME! Good Luck!

Ian and the Wordwraiths

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