On Writing

What would you rather have: a penny or £1 million?

7 Comments 25 March 2011

If you had to choose, would you prefer a million pounds or a penny that doubles in value every day for 30 days?

It’s a no-brainer, right? Of course everyone would choose a million pounds!

Well, not so fast. Stop for one second and do the maths. The results might surprise you.

I have drawn up a table to help you choose:

Incredible, isn’t it? That is compound interest for you. Little happens for three weeks, and then the pennies begin to grow rapidly. After one week, the total is 64p. After two weeks the total has reached a modest £82 and even by the end of the third week, you are only £10,000 up. However in the last four days the compounding effect kicks in, bringing the final total to more than £5 million.

This process looks even more impressive in graph form:

I found out about this while reading the work of Jeff Olson, an American motivational speaker I was researching for my sequel to The Human Race. Over the past 12 months I have studied dozens of speakers and I have to say that in my opinion, Jeff is the best. Perhaps it’s because his approach applies so well to writing that I was drawn to him. It’s also because his ideas are so simple and easy to remember. He calls his principle The Slight Edge, based on the basic premise that a little of something every day (a penny, for example) for a sustained period will eventually produce something big!

If you have a goal, you may not reach it after thirty days, three months or even three years, but if you keep chipping away at it, eventually the power of compound interest will kick in and all that foundation effort will deliver tangible results. In my case this is a completed novel, which, during the writing process can seem distant. My first novel is proof of this: it took me ten years to write The Human Race, but I kept going. Word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page it was eventually finished – and published.

Now I have embarked upon a new journey: aiming to finish my second novel, which I am on target to complete within two years. Now that’s what I call progress! At this rate I’ll be hitting John Grisham’s annual word count!

The principle of compound interest is obvious, yes. But easy? No. However if you follow the penny approach, and I do, it makes it easier to write or do anything with a distant target or seemingly impossible finish line.

I like the approach so much that I even have a watch in the shape of a penny. My wife bought it for me and it’s the best gift I’ve ever received. I think of that single penny every time I check the time and it reminds me that without the first word, the second can’t follow.

And so I carry on, chipping away at the sequel to The Human Race, safe in the knowledge that someday soon I will finish it.

This post was selected for Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #6, hosted by The Book Designer, Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival – April 2011, hosted by Mysteries and My Musings, Lovely Words Vol. 32, hosted by Writing as a Sacred Art, The Mad Editor’s Round-Up #29, hosted by Diary of a Mad Editor and the 18th May 2011 edition of Writing Inspiration, Resources and Tips, hosted by Inspired To Write.

Image credit: Mukumbura.

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7 Comments so far

  1. A sensational, outstanding piece of advice OCH.

    A superb pice of applied wisdom in a madly rushed, get rich quick world. Follow this and you’ll never go wrong. We are learning how well this this right now in our 3 person company.

    Thanks

    Jonathan
    Jonathan Gunson recently posted..JonathanGunson- RT @QueenRania- I came across thisThis is the Jordan I know http-bitly-e0pDBJ

  2. Well, I made only two typos in my reply to your post – must be a record.
    ( Spelled ‘piece’ wrong, and I mean’t to say ‘We are learning how well this works …’

    But I imagine you’ll gather my drift 🙂

    Jonathan
    Jonathan Gunson recently posted..JonathanGunson- RT @QueenRania- I came across thisThis is the Jordan I know http-bitly-e0pDBJ

    • OC Heaton says:

      I do and thanks. Its a great philosophy. Even my kids get it which is usually a good sign that something works!
      REgards
      OC

      PS Typos don’t matter. Did you see my blog SELINLPG IS IVRARLENEThttp://bit.ly/ggy5oO I rely on that excuse all the time!

  3. ISpeakTheTruth says:

    Your math is incorrect.
    You would have 31 pennies at the end of the 30 days.

    “If you had to choose, would you prefer a million pounds or a penny that doubles in value every day for 30 days?”

    That one penny will double, every day for 30 days, plus your original penny, making 31 pennies.


Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #6 — The Book Designer - March 27, 2011

    […] Heaton presents What would you rather have: a penny or £1 million? posted at A Rush of Green, saying, ” If you have a goal, you may not reach it after thirty […]

  2. Lovely Word Vol. 32 « Writing as a Sacred Art - April 19, 2011

    […] […]

  3. Blog Carnival Number Two: Freelance Writing - Inspired to Write | Inspired to Write - May 18, 2011

    […] Heaton presents What would you rather have: a penny or £1 million? posted at A Rush of Green. If you have a goal, you may not reach it after thirty days, three months […]

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Reviews of The Human Race

Unputdownable. Yes, I know it's not a word, but it definitely applies here, anyway. That's the word I'm going with, to describe The Human Race by O.C. Heaton. - Hira N. Hasnain

An outstanding first novel from O.C. Heaton that catapults him into the Best Seller league… - Justine Bond

"This is an exciting, fast-paced read. The Human Race is a book that is very easy to forget to put down. Bring on part two!" - L. H. Bowers

"If you are looking for a well-plotted and well-written thriller to while away the hours of a long flight, this offering might suit you very well." - David Bryson, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer

For further reviews of The Human Race by O.C. Heaton click here.

Author Bio

Charles Heaton British thriller writer O.C. Heaton, author of The Human Race, is fascinated by the past, present and future of human evolution. (Image credit: Ross Parry Agency) Read More>>

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The BeachThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-timeLife of PiOuter DarkThe FirmAlexander 3: The Ends of the Earth: A Novel

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