23 May

Mathematical Proof that You’ve Got Time to Write

Mathematical Proof You've got Time to Write

Mathematical Proof You've got Time to WriteThere is one in every gathering. The friend-of-a-friend who says “Oh, I’m going to write a novel, too, when I’ve got the time.”

Sometimes they use variations “I’m going to write when I retire.” “When the kids are older.” “When this project at work is finished.” If only they’d have the time.

Well, friend-of-a-friend, since I don’t have the courage to take you by the ear and shake you, I’ll do the second best thing. I’m going to lampoon you on the Interwebz. I’m going to prove to you that you’ve got the time to write, using cold, hard math.

Let’s say you’re my 85-year-old aunt. You can’t type. You can’t find the letters on the keyboard. You need to hunt them down one by one and peck them to death with your finger. Finger, singular. Let’s say you manage to write 10 words a minute. That gives you five seconds to type “a” or “the” and one more second to rest between words.

[bctt tweet=”Writing at 10 WPM gives you five seconds to type ‘a’ or ‘the’ and a second to rest between words.” username=”FilipWiltgren”]

And let’s say that you can’t write that much. All you’ve got is 15 minutes at lunch, because you invested your retirement fund in Enron stock and now you have to work even though you’re 85. And of course, you don’t work 356 days a year, who’d ever heard of that. You live in Sweden where seniors get 6 weeks of paid vacation (and you can’t write on your vacation, that’s when you do your crochet) and every day that’s between a holiday and a weekend is paid bonus leave[note]They’re called “klämdagar”, look them up![/note].

So you get, like, 260 days when you can write. Except that you won’t, because you’ve got cramps in your typing finger, and writer’s block, and you need to go to the bathroom a bit longer some days. So let’s say 200 days of writing a year.

How long will it take you to write that 100 000 word techno-thriller (it’s about an ex-astronaut searching for a killer who goes around murdering public figures using a laser crochet needle)?

Easy math: 100 000 words divided by 200 days leaves 500. 500 divided by 10 words per minute leaves 50. 50 divides by 15 minutes per day leaves 3 and a third[note]Here’s the formula: 100 000 words / (10 WPM * 15 minutes per day * 200 days per year) = 3.3333333 years.[/note].

[bctt tweet=”Writing 15 minutes a day at 10 words per minute makes a 100 000 word techno-thriller in 3 years.” username=”FilipWiltgren”]

Well, auntie, looks like you’re going into print by your 89th birthday. Congratulations. And FYI, I knew it was the professional poodle-walker who did it.

OK, so you’re not my aunt (hopefully, if you are, I didn’t mean that jibe about finger typing).

But still. You’ve got to admit auntie. From nothing to Hollywood contract starring Tom Berenger (it’s an old people’s movie) using the one-finger waltz in less than four years.

Don’t you think you could do better?

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