Barack Obama on writing well

A speech by President Barack Obama to the nation’s schoolkids was scrutinized for a hidden agenda. Such “indoctrination” criticism prompted the Department of Education to edit a suggested lesson plan associated with the speech.

It turns out that the Obama’s address, delivered Tuesday, had nothing to do with health care, abortion or other hot-button issues. Instead, the president encouraged the students to take responsibility for their education and their lives. It was a message that even Newt Gingrich liked.

Obama also talked about careers, including journalism:

Maybe you could be a good writer — maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper — but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class.

The president is right: Writing isn’t easy. Neither is editing. The earlier you get started trying them and the harder you work, the more likely you are to succeed.

Here are Obama’s other tips regarding writing and communication:

  • “Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published.”
  • “You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.”
  • “Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.”
  • “No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.”

Read more about Obama’s interest in writing and editing in this Time article from 2008.

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One thought on “Barack Obama on writing well

  1. As I was listening to his address, I couldn’t help but thinking about the first time I wanted a career in journalism, I was 9.

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