Thursday, November 17, 2005

Beginning, Middle and End

Beginning, Middle and End

It looks like the problem I had with my notebook PC wasn't thorough solved by HP; I had to return it back to the service center because it was still crashing on me. They'll need another 3 days to get it fixed. And hopefully they can fully pinpoint the real problem now.

So, I'm handicapped again without my computer. But luckily, my Sun workstation is now working beautifully after I've connected my new Samsung LCD monitor to its NVIDIA graphics card. Now I have a professional Java development environment set up. It'll keep me occupied while my notebook is being fixed.

Lots of blog ideas have been floating around in my head for the past few days; I just didn't have the time to sit and write them down with all the problems that I had with my notebook and other worldly matters that I had to attend to.

Every word, every sentence we write is an act of creation. That is why I see writing as a wonderful thing. Something intangible from the mind is brought into existence through the act of writing and by doing so, powerful forces are set into motion.

The mind is always gushing with ideas; if you do not give them expression, its flow will be impeded. The more you write, the more ideas will come to you because it is the natural state of the mind to be creative, provided that you make the effort to create. Once the creative wheels start spinning, it's difficult to make them stop; they will only gather momentum.

So in everything we do, it is important that we allow ourselves some easy "latch-on" points. Get started first. Tackle the details later. A lot of people get blocked before they even start doing anything because of anxiety and doubt. Write the first sentence. One sentence. I'm sure we can all do that. And then see what happens. Like what Hemingway advised: "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know."

Whenever I'm preparing a new Powerpoint presentation, I'll always start with an agenda slide: Point one: Introduction; point two: whatever the subject is; point three: Summary. Everything has a beginning, middle and end. That's the rhythm of the universe: rising, peaking, falling. Movies, plays, books--every work of art follows this simple structure.

This three-act structure is good because it gives the audience a natural sense of comfort. They get eased slowly into the subject through the introduction; then they are served the heavy "main course" before everything is finally tied up nicely in the end. You create a sense of expectation (beginning), you fulfill it (middle) and then at the end you remind the audience how all the expectations have been fulfilled (end). That leaves the audience with a sense of satisfaction.

A presentation usual fails when the presenter does not sense this natural rhythm in the audience. Sometimes they stretch the introduction too long, creating a prolonged sense of expectation and then finding themselves short of time to fulfil it. Or sometimes they over-stretch the middle part when the attention of the audience has already reached saturation point and is expecting an ending.

Well, maybe I'm already over-stretching my point in this particular blog entry! Time to end it. And remember, every ending is also a beginning to something new--and the creative wheels continue spinning...

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