Math is my kryptonite

Someone, or maybe it was some study I read, said people who write use one half of their brain more often, while those who work with numbers use the other half of their brain. You know, the left brain-right brain thing, I think.

As someone who has made his living with words, I definitely find truth in that saying, or study, or whatever. I can write with complete confidence that the vast majority of my words, grammar, spelling, etc. will make sense to readers. (But don’t ask me to diagram a sentence. I just seem to know how the words go together correctly. I guess my English teachers got through to me, but maybe to a subconscious level only and I didn’t know it.)

(Courtesy Creative Commons)

But I’ve also realized – sometimes again and again, unfortunately – that I need to double and triple check my math or the figures and numbers in my stories have a good chance of being wrong. I suppose if this really bothered me, I would have taken some kind of remedial math course some time ago. But I haven’t. Instead, I try to avoid writing stories that depend a great deal on numbers, or at least ones that need me to do some mathematical step. I can copy and paste numbers with no fears.

I’m not totally inept in this area and can use a calculator app with the best of them. It just seems like another of life’s great mysteries.

Recently, I wanted to find out exactly how much time it took me to finish a freelance writing assignment, so I could submit a more accurate invoice. But I also wanted to prove a point to my career coach, who didn’t seem to think applying for a job takes me as long as I said it does. When you personalize each and every resume and cover letter with keywords from the job descriptions, go through the often repetitive application process, log in over and over because the application site kicks you out after three minutes of inactivity, it takes time. So to get around my math hurdles, I found a time tracking app to use in both cases. (I’m still not sure my career coach is convinced, though.)

I’ve known many people who say they don’t know how to write, at least to a professional level, so I can relate. My brother is much better with numbers and math, so he works in computer programming. And he doesn’t write very much.

I guess you could say it’s a good thing some of us are good at one thing and others are good at something else. I’d heartily agree. Differences make each of us unique, something we tend to forget too often, especially in this day and age.

So don’t ask me to add, subtract, multiply and divide a bunch of numbers or figure out the square root of 5,398. I’ll leave that to someone else and just write about how they did it.

(Courtesy Creative Commons)

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