Book Writing Math

The most basic equation in book writing is the standard page equation.

1 page = 250 words in a standard font with 1″ margins and double spaced

It’s a professional equation and emotionless. It does not have the weight of “I need to add 10,000 words” or the even more frightening, “I have to cut 10,000 words.”

And since we’re going into a spiral of mathematical, book-writing doom here, may I remind you of hours. This is the worst for poets.

“I just spent 2 hours on 50 words.” This is why poets do not know anything the standard page equation. They instead create a mathematics of rhythm and sound, and retreat into their happy word-spinning place.

I just spent 4 hours on 1,895 words. I was interrupted once by two nephews coming up to have lunch. They awarded me with cheese doodles and I politely kicked them out once they were done eating. At hour 2.7 I half unloaded the dishwasher in the vain attempt to avoid a particular writing problem.

Freelancers beat themselves up about hours. How much of that hour was I really working? God, stay off facebook! If I don’t finish this paper, I will never get paid!

Is it worth to take a job that will take x amount of hours and pay y? Is my pace equal to my acceptable hourly rate? Is it more cost effective for me to hire painters and spend my time editing or paint the room myself?

Never ever calculate how much money you are earning per hour while writing.

I set out to fix a chapter today. I blew off work to do it. I have to get the bulk of the Fucker out of the way before the semester starts. I can afford to take a day here and there to write.

I can’t decide whether to be ecstatic that I mostly fixed the chapter that I thought I couldn’t fix this morning or to feel concerned because that was 4 out of many-mumble pages.

But I also felt good enough about the ever-dreaded section 5 to save the document as my next draft. I’ve turned a corner. I’ve rephrased one of my major themes. It’s lucky draft 16, baby!

Fortunately my brother-in-law came with a wide variety of interesting beer, and while it is not quite beer o’clock yet, I have only 1/24th of the day to go. Or maybe I’ll crack one open early to celebrate.


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