Querypolitan Presents: MATH HATES WRITERS

If you've ever found yourself struggling to solve simple mathematical equations, DON'T WORRY. You're probably just a writer. The world makes us feels stupid and inept, but the truth is our abilities are far more complex than anyone with a bucket full of numbers could ever understand. Sadly, the world's general incapacity to grasp our Genius means we're usually stuck in situations like these:

Lay Person: “Hey what’s 61 minus 15?”

Writer: suddenly deaf and fascinated by dust motes.

Lay Person: "HEY! WHAT'S 61 MINUS 15???"


Lay Person: impatient.

Writer: glances at fingers. “look, i only have TEN OF THESE. What do you want me to do with them?” 


Lay Person: "I need to buy 16 of each."

Writer: "Er. Right. So that's a total of... uh.."

Lay Person: blinks. incredulous.

Writer: "...carry the 5... and.. put the extra number on top of the other one... and then..." counts fingers.

Lay Person: "32. The answer is THIRTY-TWO."



Lay Person: “Hey what do you think of this shirt?”


Lay Person: “Awesome! And it’s 30% off!”

Writer: expletive

Lay Person: “How much is 30% off of $44.99?”

Writer: “THAT IS THE FUGLIEST SHIRT I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE nevermind let’s go to a store where everything is FULL PRICE.”

If you look closely, you’ll notice that it’s always the Lay Person who provokes the Mathematical questions. THIS IS BECAUSE THEY ARE JEALOUS OF YOUR MAD AUTHOR SKILLZ. They’re trying to trick you into screwing up because they know that writers have no skill set when it comes to numbers. I mean THINK ABOUT IT: Why are they always asking YOU to solve these complicated math problems, hmmmmm? Why can't they solve these issues on their OWN? <-- IRREFUTABLE PROOF.

In truth, these are the only numbers we care about:

  1. Word count
  2. Blog comments
  3. Blog followers
  4. Twitter followers
  5. Blog comments
  6. Blog comments
  7. Page views
  8. Agent offers
  9. Book deals
  10. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
In fact, number ten may include an infinite amount of numbers and we will never ever complain. Just don’t try to make us understand numbers for anything else.

So the next time someone tries to trick you into using math, consider these options:

  1. Screaming. Always an excellent distraction.
  2. Kicking. Anything. Or anyone, for that matter.
  3. Singing Lady Gaga. Once people start dancing, no one will be thinking about math.
  4. Speaking another language. Not only will this confuse the Lay Person, but it will further prove your Genius.
  5. Lying. Just throw a number out there. If they say you’re wrong, start crying. I promise this will stop the Lay People from ever asking you to do math again.
  6. Writing a blog post about it. This will help generate sympathy from your Esteemed Colleagues as well as provide you with a healthy platform for the exision of numbers from your vocabulary. Minus, of course, the numbers with which you’ll use to order lists. 


Jan Markley said...

It also works if you look at them and go: "what am I a mathematician or something!?" 'Cause, writers like sarcasm. Then start writing a haiku, that'll show them!

Mireyah Wolfe said...

omg. I can't stop laughing. can't,....breathe!

salarsenッ said...

OMGosh...you freakin' rawk!! Next time, instead of lay person use: Financial Wizard Husband of writer wife. My husband is all about numbers; that's what he does. I hate numbers!!

Lovely post!!

Heather said...

There are two editors at the magazine where I work full-time (myself and another). Neither of us can do math very well. We always send each other instant messages with questions like, "How many is 32 percent of 65 percent of respondents?" as if the other person will have any idea how to help, or even if that kind of math is actually possible (doubtful. It seems to require more than one operation, which my calculator is not set up to do, so therefore it's not possible to solve that problem.) Eventually we end up turning to a graphic artist or sales person for guidance because we have no idea what we're doing when it comes to maths. (But we are LE AWESOME with words.)

Needless to say, this post hit home.

Also, +1 blog comment for you. Nicely done.

Kari said...

Oh NO! Either I'm not a real writer or I'm going to flunk business school :-{

Beth Overmyer said...

O.o You've been spying on me?

I tried doing a timeline for a novella. Had the span of years but had to figure out the corresponding dates. "If so-and-so died twenty years previously and had a brother two years younger than him who was born in 1800, and he lived to be thirty-nine, how many years were they both of age at the same time and what year is it now?"

Made up example, but... Yeaaahhh. Nightmare. You'd think as a writer, I'd be better at those types of equations. Nope. I am math-dumb.

Glad to know I'm not alone!

maine character said...

I don’t know any Lady Gaga, but maybe some Einstein would work:

“Hey, how many minutes in a day?”
“Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”
“No, really, how many?”
“As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”
[The sound of their head exploding.]

Randa said...

HAHAHA there was so much awesomeness in this that it was a bit overwhelming. Phew... Ok. I'm good. Sooo according to this post it's pretty obvious that I'm a writer. I too become suddenly fascinated with dust when asked a basic math question. So sad... on the bright side, you are so funny...

Amorena said...

You know what, I must be one of the few writers on Earth that actually enjoys math. Hang on. Wrong word. LOVES math (except for geometry). Give me a page of equations and I'll likely drop everything I'm doing and solve them.

I'm not kidding.

By the way: You, Tehereh, = awesome.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I'm not aloooooooooooooooooooooone! Yay! The sadness here is I'm going to uni, and they just don't understand my creative genius. I'm not 'wrong,' I'm fighting the (number) man! *sniff* And they want me to take a stupid placement test before I register for classes. It's discrimination!
(seriously, though, hilarious post. :D Is it sad that I've actually tried five out of six of those options? Or is it seven out of six....)

Michelle Hodkin said...

O.M.G. This is almost maybe EXACTLY what happened with my cousin Amjad (writer/entomology enthusiast) and some stupid layperson who just. kept. asking. him if how many spider children spider females can give birth to after each mating.

So frustrating. I passed this post along to him. I know he'll appreciate it.

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

T, my excuse is that I teach second grade. So that's the level I mentally operate on. Next year when I teach first, it's just going to get worse. Thanks for the LOLs.


Clare C. Greenstreet said...

Oh my god, so true! I hate Math! I'm good at it, I just hate it. When I use at college doing Math and English GCSE re-takes (and AN IT course) my Math teacher told me I should care more about Math than writing. I ignored her.

Alison Stevens said...

And this is why writers want agents... people who can be sure that the $$$$ in number 10 are correct because somebody remembered to carry the 5.

Watch out for the wily agents, though... they realize that writers won't be able to calculate 15% commission. Ten percent, we might be able to do, what with just moving a decimal point and all, but 15? That's way too complicated.

Mia said...

OMG, THANK YOU. I was worrying I was the only one. I definitely use the phone calculator. I think another way is to DAZZLE them with you knowledge of book weights etc and then run, like

Person "OMG, this book is 15 percent off the 50 percent SALE! Squee! What's that now? Hmm? Hmmm?"

Writer "Ummmmm, did you know that most paperbacks weigh about 400 grams? Not that I've tried weighing them..."

Person "..."

Writer *points* "ZOMG, IS THAT CHUCK NORRIS??" *runs off during distraction*

Also, I find number 5 really useful until we get to the till and then I have to pretend to be phoned and rush off. Number 6, however, usually only gets me into trouble *sighs*

Vicki Rocho said...

Sad, but true. None of my characters will ever by physicists or any kind of math genius. I'm not willing to do the research involved for THAT. hahaha

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...


The funny thing is I was a math whiz when I was a kid. I can actually answer those questions! Spooky. I must have been dropped on my head as a child. You don't think the numbers will rise up and eat all my words, do you? Do you? Yes?

Theresa Milstein said...

I KNEW IT! As a child and teen and college student, I struggled with math. Now I know it was because I was a writer waiting to come out.

When I have sub jobs for math, I practically break out in hives and my breathing becomes erratic. Then I'm forced to fudge knowing anything about math whenever a student asks me a question. No more! From now on, I'll say, "I don't have to answer that. I'm a writer."

middle grade ninja said...


MBW aka Olleymae said...

lol, so true.

My friend invented this thing called "fuzzy math" where you pretty much just guess the number that FEELS right.

No calculation involved.


April said...

OMG, I love it. I actually was always pretty good at math, but I'm not good at doing it in my head. My husband, however, is somehow a math whiz. And you are so right about the numbers us writers actually care about.

Which sucks because though my word count is high on my WIP, all my other counts are pretty damn low...

What's the probabilty I will have more blog followers by the end of the summer? That's 1 month and 15 days multiplied by the 20 followers I have...

or something like that.

Jenna said...

I now have an excuse as to why I hate math so much. It's a mutual dislike, brought about by the phenomena of "right-brained writer chick." Wonder if my math teacher will accept this one as an excuse? It's worth a shot, right?

Jonathon Arntson said...

I am so glad I'm not the only one. The only D I got in all of high school was in Trig. I just didn't get it. Of course, all my friends went on to ace Calc, but whatevs.

Amelia Elizabeth said...

ACCURACY. I work retail and people are all HERE DO MATH and I'm all UH NO. And then they look at me like I have four heads and I want to crawl into a corner but usually I just say 'I'm an arts student' and they're like OH.

But seriously mathness = madness. THAT'S MY KIND OF EQUATION.

Melody said...

Bahahaha, I think this was the best QP article yet! "Wait, there's a calculator on my phone!!"

I'm actually one of those really weird people that happen to be obsessed with both words and numbers. It makes this extremely odd combination of geek and artist. I'm a walking, living, breathing social impossibility. :)

Joann Swanson said...

Thank you for the VALIDATION. I had no idea my math sucked because I write. Woo hoo!! Now I have a REASON.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love the numbers we writers do care about! :)

M.J. Horton said...


This is basically what I do whenever anyone mentions math to me.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Oh sure use a stereotype!! I just want you to know that that's what I married a rocket scientist for. That and to kill spiders.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Too funny - thanks for the laugh.

Cambria Dillon said...

ARE YOU IN MY HEAD????? Just last night my husband (who comes from a family of ACCOUNTANTS. GAH! NUMBERS GALORE!!!) totally ragged on me because I couldn't figure out what the date would be two weeks from yesterday. Like, all I had to do was add 14 to 14, but my brain was all: #$%&!@&%. Finally I just said "Screw it. I'll just do it on Aug. 1." There. Problem solved.
(I emailed him a link to this post by the way so he sees I'm not on an island by myself. Thx!)

Marsha Sigman said...

Uhhh, hello? I'm an accountant in my day job.

And before you start thinking I some sort of mutant...I hate math...I actually suck at it...(I really hope no one from work sees this) but if you put math in any kind of monetary form...it suddenly makes perfect sense to me.

Also, 30% off of 44.99 would make it $31.49. And yes I can do that in my head and write a bad ass urban fantasy.

I have often wondered if I have a split personality and don't realize it...

Laura Marcella said...

Haaate haaate haaate math. Looove looove looove this post!!!

Caitlin R. O'Connell said...


*shudders at the thought of math*

Seriously, sometimes I just tell people 42. Because 42 is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, so how can it be wrong?

(I'm sure the SAT people were amused, right?)

Dawn said...

Hilarious! I clearly remember a math class where the dork in front of me said he hadn't done his homework. When the teacher asked how he expected to graduate he said: I won't need to. I'll just be a writer or something. Sigh.

E. Elle said...

Fabulous post!

I actually have always been pretty good at math. (Does this mean my author skills have suffered?) It's science I can't get my head around.

Thanks for bringing a smile to my face. :o)

JEM said...

Yeah, I posted about statistics the other day, and I felt the same way. Numbers and I don't so much mix.

Matt Ryan said...

Hey! I take offense to this post. I'm great with numbers and I write . . . Awwww suck. Does this mean I can't write well?

Melissa Gill said...

Does this work at the bank, 'cause man that's where I really need help. Why can't I buy 120.00 worth of books while only having 12.00 in my checkbook? Really, it's one lousy zero.

Krispy said...

There used to be a time when I was actually kind of good at math, but I was never good at doing it in my head all on the spot like that. -__-

It always takes me forever to figure out how to split a meal check with friends - what with the dividing and splitting tip and stuff. That's what I have a tip splitter app for!

ChristaCarol said...

Your top 10 list is so true! I think I might've just cried a little.

Carolyn V. said...

Hee hee, that is all so true.I had to take a math class to get my degree. I failed it the first time and then I got a C. I was just so glad to have that class over!

Brandi G. said...

What if I can do math? Does that mean I'm not a writer? ::dreams come crashing down::

Wait! I almost failed calculus (I still have no idea what ANY of the class was about). Does that count??

Verification word: nounched

Definition: [i]verb[/i], the process of making a noun into a verb for the sake of your prose's awesomeness

Palindrome said...

I'm great at right and I'm a goodly writer...wait...that's not rigt.

Jess said...

I think I may have said this before, but it bears repeating: you are brilliant. Seriously. :)

Sage said...

*loves math*


Sumayyah said...

So. I definitely do all of those things. Including cry. Math = bane of my existence.


Jaleh D said...

I'm actually pretty decent at math, but that might be because I'm also a gamer. I can do algebra and geometry (anything beyond basic I'm rusty on), but calculus goes over my head.

My husband once came out of the shower with an oddball question. He wondered if there was an equation to solve how many connections there were between squares for an x by x tiled area. So you could do the equation to figure out say 6 tiles by 6 tiles. Whaddayaknow. There is one. After about half an hour the two of us figured it out. However, I'd have to find the paper we have it written on in order to tell you. We're admitted geeks.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Heh, heh. Actually, I can DO math. I just don't like to. It eats up brain waves that could better be spent composing words.

The nun who taught my Algebra I class in high school was SO aggravated with me. She knew I wasn't trying ...

Medeia Sharif said...

Lol. :) Very funny. I'm good at math, though. But my main concern is the numbers pertaining to your list.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Seriously, where were you when I was struggling in math in high school? (btw. that was a rhetorical question) :D

MitMoi said...

a) I chose my college based on what they required for math. Hence my class in "logic" and "Philosophy of Science" = math

b) I am dyslexic. I think if you have the right numbers - WHAT DOES THE ORDER MATTER? 5678, 7865, 8657 ... ALL THE SAME. Srsly

c) To shut people up I do my work "out loud".

Stupid Lay Person: How much is 30% off of $44.99

Mit: Oh! 30% is 10% x 3. And you move a decimal. Or!!! It's 10% + 5 x 2. So ... 10% of 44.99 ... move the decimal - take that number divide by two to get the five add it to the ten ... HEY!!!! Where are you going, I almost have the answer!

Just do it once or twice and they'll never ask you again.

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