The Math Behind Writing

Will Pace (’24) invites us to think creatively about structure in writing. “…my “structure” was my thought directly to the page. I could have never written this post with a graphic organizer.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Oh my gosh Will no shut up I hate math please don’t write about math please!!!” And to that I’d say, don’t worry, because I hate it too. And don’t get too worked up, because math doesn’t REALLY exist behind every single piece we write (or maybe that’s what I want you to think). Ok fine, but for real, whether you think it’s true or not, I most certainly think it is.

You are most likely still confused, so let me explain a little more in depth. Everything you do in life seems to have a “process”, or a certain way it functions. Not just that, but there is really a type of math behind everything. If something has dimensions, it’s made up of math. The angle at which you would throw a ball to get it to a certain spot works mathematically. Heck, the price of a gallon of milk at the store is numbers. But how does this relate to writing?

I can guarantee that writing has been taught to you as a process. We’ve all heard of and written an essay in English class that has an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Super fun right? Actually, it’s the opposite. I am certainly not a fan of this style of writing, but that’s okay, because you don’t need a specific structure to start writing. Sometimes the structure comes from the writing, and not the traditional other way around. 

I often dive into pieces of mine with no structure, and just type and keep going until It’s finished (LIKE I AM RIGHT NOW!!!!) Obviously I’m gonna go through and revise it afterwards, but my “structure” was my thought directly to the page. I could have never written this post with a graphic organizer. What I’m saying is I can’t write effectively with that structure we were taught, which is honestly why I hated writing for so long.

NOW. I bet you are probably wondering, “Will! How does THAT relate to math?!?” Well, what I’ll say is that with math comes structure, and with structure comes math. You can’t have one without the other. We are taught structure in everything we do, and that is the same with writing. But the more and more you write, you begin to see that structure maybe isn’t always as important as it’s made out to be. So maybe I’m saying that the math behind writing is that there isn’t math behind writing. Or at least there doesn’t have to be.

One thought on “The Math Behind Writing”

  1. I like the connection you made between math and writing; I’ve noticed that a lot of writing assignments in school have a rigid structure that always must be followed, like the intro, 3 body paragraphs, and conclusion you mentioned. I also think that a structure like that can be more of a hindrance than something helpful. Sometimes writing freely with no constraints is the best way to effectively write in your own voice, which is the most important aspect of a writing piece.


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