The Maths of Writing

I’m just dropping by to share my thoughts about how much I find maths creeping into my writing.

Now if you’re anything like me, you absolutely did not gel with maths of any kind at school and while you might have revised your heart out and got the grades, it was always words that were your passion. Same girl same.

I remember quipping while I was at Uni that I used my calculator more during my English degree than I ever did in school, and while it may have been an exaggeration, I do find myself calculating quite a lot.

One place you’ve got to consider numbers is word count. Sure, word count isn’t everything, but you’ll probably have an idea of the industry standard when it comes to how long your book should be, and if you have a pretty detailed sheet of story beats you might be able to work out approximately how many chapters you’re going to have and how long they’ll need to be. Sure, a story beat doesn’t always equal a chapter, it could mean half a chapter or even three, but I find it’s sometimes quite nice to have a goal to hit when it comes to the word count for each chapter.

In that vein, I also sometimes find myself comparing the size of my chapters. That might sound a little OTT, but when I checked back, some of them were 500 words long and others nearly 2000 – so it gave me some food for thought in terms of evening those numbers out – in a natural way that fits the story, of course.

Then you’ve got the calculations outside of the story – i.e how long is it going to take me to write the bloody thing? I’ve mentioned before the writing pact that I have with my friend Lou, and that means that we’re writing at least 2000 words per fortnight. So I’ve already got ten chapters, and I know the approximate word count I’m aiming for, and I know how many words I should be adding per week – so I keep checking up on myself to work out how many weeks it might be until I have a finished manuscript.

Of course, most of this is just a distraction from sitting down and writing the story. But if you’re going to procrastinate from writing, it might as well be in a way that tidies your book up and helps you see the light at the end of the long tunnel, right??

But, y’know…


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