Maths + writing?

3 Apr

I’ve been helping a friend with the maths parts of a professional exam, which got me contemplating the formula to writing a good book.  I’m by no means a mathmo but I studied Maths at A-Level, although wisely opted out of the masochistic ‘Further Maths’ course, plus studying Economics at the LSE was incredibly maths-heavy.  However, I had forgotten the innate satisfaction from solving one of those annoying maths problems that for the life of you, you can’t work out until suddenly… the penny drops and you manage to move beyond the struggle and see the solution.  This has been a surprising contrast with all the writing (or lack of it, in most cases) I’ve been attempting lately, where there is no ‘exact’ answer that you are working towards.  Of course, this is partly what adds to the beauty of the process but I can’t help but wish there were some more formulaic approach to be had.  I’ve researched the various writing methods authors use, including The Snowflake Method, to try and see what would work best for me and it seems that most of these ‘methods’ boil down to intense preparation and planning of a novel.  For some reason, though, I can’t quite seem to plan properly; I’ve always started writing and let the story develop that way, although most of the time I do have some general idea of the themes and the way in which I want the story to develop.

Anyway, rambling aside, I just wish I could make my writing process a lot more efficient and less trial and error.

Unfortunately, though, it looks like I’ll just have to try my best and persevere with this, remembering that ‘the path to success isn’t always a straight line.’  So, yeah, I guess that means I’ll have to put up with the frustrating scrapping of drafts and the sudden decisions to change a character completely but perhaps that is all part of the maddening(but hopefully ultimately rewarding) process.

I figure if there were a formula for writing a good novel, it would be something like: some function of all the books you’ve read in your life time and your love of literature plus a measure of your persistence plus a measure of self-belief minus a measure of your procrastination…(for me, the explanatory variable here would be shockingly high).

Writing a good novel = F(past books you have read, love of literature) + a*persistence + b*self-belief –c* procrastination 

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