A Truant Disposition

"I must be idle."

New Year, New Resources for Writers (and Everyone)

Written By: Ainy Rainwater - Dec• 28•15

I’ve recently discovered and started to use a couple of nice online resources, which I’m pleased with. They’ll come in handy in the New Year, both for writing and for handling pesky New Year’s Resolutions. Both have organizational tools, and a creative flair to them which I like — and I think others might like them too. (If you follow my microblog you may have already seen some of this.)

LitLift is an online writing resource which has tools to help with brainstorming your novel, structuring it, organizing your notes and writing it. You can develop — and write — the whole thing right there online. You can add chapters, scenes, characters, settings…it will help you track where something is, if there’s some detail that you need to track through the book. I wish now I’d known about it before I started brainstorming my most recent manuscript. The Writing Guide and Plotline features are pretty good. The character development has a list of traits and background that you can fill in. Or…you can use their random character generator which is a nifty tool for sparking the imagination: you can select it to generate a number of boy/girl names, and also a general description of what type of person they are, likes and dislikes, traits. The descriptions are so evocative that stories sort of leap out from them. The location generator can either give you totally fictional names or actual place names. Fun! The title generator is a bit generic, but there’s also a random word generator which could be useful in writing prompt type challenges.

All in all, it looks like an excellent way to organize a novel from the first stages on through rewrites. You can create scenes or characters which aren’t attached to any project, but can be later attached to work in progress.  You can add/remove scenes, characters, settings, and items to any project. You can also export your work as txt, rtf, or epub. I’m using it to play around with some ideas just to see how it works. All material you create on Litlift is private unless you add something to the Library which will make your story/chapters/book available to others on Litlift for review and comments, or you can make it completely public (though only Litlift members can comment). If you wanted to play around with serialization, this might be a good way to do it without muddling up your blog with an assortment of posts and chapters. This would be a really excellent resource for people prepping for NaNoWriMo. Next time I do NaNo, this is what I’m using for NaNo prep!

I just recently also discovered Habitica. I’d seen mention of it somewhere, but since I’m not a gamer I didn’t pay any attention. But this is in many ways not quite a game because it’s a productivity tool that makes developing good habits (and getting rid of bad ones) fun, as well as motivating you in silly ways to work your way down your ever-growing To Do list. I’d noticed on some writing sites that getting badges for goals or streaks were insanely gratifying, and Habitica has all kinds of little cheesy icons that pop up as well as graphs and color-changing lists (Habits, Dailies, To Do). Their FAQ and Overview For New Users is great for getting started and the Habitica Wiki has been a excellent resource for getting me oriented — without sucking away huge amounts of time.

Even though I’m on a writing break in December, I’ve set up a small list of things to do Daily, Habits to do often, and moved my To Do list into it. I’ve gotten a stunning amount done, without feeling like I’m doing anything much and I’m just waaaaay too pleased about my tasks. LOL (BTW, they have just released a new app which is very nice, with more advanced features to be added soon.) I know right before Christmas is not a good time to start new things like this, but there’s a option to set certain Dailies to begin at a point in the future. My writing-related Dailies go into effect in January. You can also set certain “Dailies” to be done, not daily but on certain days of the week. Which is helpful for things you want to do weekly. You can even set your dailies to not be in effect on weekends. Or you can “rest in the tavern” which means that your “character” in the “game” is inactive, neither gaining nor losing points until you “check out of the inn”.

Click on over to Habitica, and look over the info links above. Then set up a couple of small things as Habits, add something simple like “load/unload/run dishwasher” for a Daily, or “stretch”, or if you’re a writer, set a small word count goal, just to start, just to get the feel of how Habitica works. Add more stuff after you get oriented, maybe after Christmas is over. There are Challenges set up by Habitica members which you can join (I joined the Read A Christmas Carol challenge, and Writer’s Health challenge) which will get you points. Some are open ended, some have a set end time. There are also Quests and Parties, which you can join (I haven’t yet). You’ll get random drops of eggs, hatching potions, and food for your pets/mounts. I’m acquiring rewards and leveling up at a good rate, so I’m working on becoming a Beastmaster (or something like that). Even if you’re not into gaming at all (like me) the little popups telling me I’m advancing with each click, the line graphs, and the tiny icon rewards are very gratifying and motivating. There are Guilds you can join so you can find like-minded people who share some of your same goals and interests, so there’s some very nice peer support too. So far, everyone has been very nice and helpful. Since this is a “game” that aims toward self-improvement, helping people better their lives and reach their personal goals, it isn’t too surprising that it’s such a supportive environment. And it absolutely is the most fun you’ll ever have implementing New Year’s Resolutions! 🙂

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