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10 Writing Tips I Gathered Reading The Promised Land by Barack Obama

Kathy Gerstorff
Nov 19 · 5 min read
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Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash

Regardless of which side of the political aisle you’re on, I think we can agree that former President Barack Obama is a talented orator. He has a gift for speaking and writing.

I watched Barack Obama’s 60 Minutes interview and learned that he has a new book out, The Promised Land, a memoir about his road to the White House, and life after being the 44th President of the United States.

Barack Obama’s autobiography is fascinating as I knew it would be. What I was pleasantly surprised to discover are the writing insights peppered throughout his book.

Of course I’m inspired to do my public service duty and share the tips I gathered with you!

#1 — Active Reading.

If you want to be a professional writer, reading is a requirement.

Reading is not a problem for me and I doubt it is a problem for you. You are proving right now that you like to read for learning and pleasure.

The problem is active reading (instead of skimming, admit it, you skim, I skim, our Medium stats prove most readers do!), highlighting memorable points or taking notes, putting what we learn into action, and knowing when to stop reading and start writing!

#2 — Write in longhand.

An advantage of writing longhand is you don’t have to worry about online distractions. I am very comfortable typing as I have been doing it since high school journalism in the late 70’s and can type almost as fast as I think, so it’s not a problem for me, but I still like to scratch out my ideas in longhand.

There is a deeper mind, body, soul connection when I write in longhand versus typing or pecking words out on my smart phone.

#3 — Create a clear outline.

A clear outline also helps your writing flow more easily from one topic to the next.

#4 — Keep a journal.

A journal is a great place to store ideas and thoughts of the day that may come in handy when you create your memoir. Whenever I read my journals, I am reminded of events and details I had completely forgotten.

Journaling is also cathartic and provides insight to your current mindset. If your journal writing is slithering into the abyss, it’s time to consider the next tip…

#5 — Get out and live a little.

We writers tend to be more comfortable living in our head than the real world. But, the more we go out, experience life, and help others along the way, the more fulfilled we become, and the more vibrant our stories will be.

#6 — Use your voice.

The Promised Land feels like listening to an old friend talk about his greatest adventures. You can’t help but be spellbound and excited for future leaders his stories inspire.

Mr. Obama could have easily hired a ghost writer and narrator, but he wrote his story and reads it for us. That personal touch is magic for fans!

#7 —The Hero’s Journey keeps readers engaged.

I can see The Hero’s Journey at work in this book. It reminds me that even memoirs need an arc to keep the story moving and readers turning the page.

Joseph Campbell would be proud.

#8 — Writing takes longer than you think. Don’t rush it.

Three times longer than you think to write and publish a book? Sounds about right to me!

As indie authors, we can rush a book to market if we want to, but are we willing to pay the price of disappointed fans, one-star reviews, or dismal sales?

I have found the books I publish in a hurry often need revised. Typos, grammatical errors, important details left out. It would have been better to take my time writing it and find a good editor in the first place.

Hard lessons learned.

#9 — Keep it raw and real.

There is definitely a fine line when it comes to writing memoirs, but the more raw and real we keep our writing, the more our readers resonate with us. No longer are we up on a pedestal or otherwise not relatable, we are human dealing with some of the same real life issues.

I’m reminded of the Paris Hilton documentary, This is Paris. Before watching that documentary, I thought Paris was a spoiled rich kid growing up. After watching her keep it raw and real in the documentary, I see her in a whole different light. Her mess has turned into a message of hope for abused kids.

Yes, we may expose sensitive information or family secrets in our writing, but in doing so we may also help begin to heal heart wounds in ourselves and others.

#10 — Leave them wanting more.

The Promised Land exceeded my expectations by providing so many great writing insights. Look out Stephen King, I think Barack Obama On Writing could become the next best writer resource!

WriterKats

Writing about art and life!

Kathy Gerstorff

Written by

Indie Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Poet. Love all forms creativity. writerkat.com

WriterKats

Creative Content for Indie Authors, Wannabe Writers, and Cool Cats. Self-care for introverts, writing tips, quotes, poetry, short stories, legacy projects, book reviews, launch ideas, and info to help you stay healthy on your passion quest.

Kathy Gerstorff

Written by

Indie Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Poet. Love all forms creativity. writerkat.com

WriterKats

Creative Content for Indie Authors, Wannabe Writers, and Cool Cats. Self-care for introverts, writing tips, quotes, poetry, short stories, legacy projects, book reviews, launch ideas, and info to help you stay healthy on your passion quest.

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