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How To Write An Autobiography: A Detailed & Comprehensive Guide

  • March 28, 2022

When contemplating how to write an autobiography, many people are led to assume that it’s simple. It’s just your own life story, put through the writing process. However, when writing your own autobiography, you may find that the writing process is a little more complicated than just starting with your birth and telling the story of your own life up to the present moment.

A person’s life is more than just the big events, and it’s seldom ever a solitary story. There are life lessons that need to be included. Family members and their impact on you are a part of autobiography writing as well. If you want to write an autobiography, you have to be conscious of your life story, as a tale that built the person you are, not just a string of events.

This article will help you figure out how to write an autobiography so that it’s not just the story of your own life but a personal story that others can relate to, find inspiration in, and learn from.

What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is more than just the life story of someone. The person’s life being described is your own; therefore, it is far more personal than a novel or work of fiction. It is essential to stay truthful when recalling your own memories. The slightest deviation in honesty is a slippery slope and can quickly take you from autobiography writing to fiction writing.

How An Autobiography is Different from a Biography

A biography is the telling of someone else’s life. You choose someone, such as a family member, a friend, or a famous person, and you tell the story of his or her own life while leaving your own story out of it. A biography takes a large amount of research and expertise regarding the subject’s life story and events that they lived through. An autobiography works in the same fashion, but it’s the story of you. You are the ultimate expert in your own life. Therefore, there’s not much research to be done.

Another significant difference between autobiographical writing and biographical writing is the voice that is used. When you write an autobiography, you want to use first-person writing. You are telling the story of you. Therefore you should tell it from your own point of view.

On the other hand, biographies should always be written from a third-person point of view. Third-person is using “he, she, they, them.” You were not there, you did not witness the events you are writing about, and therefore, you should be telling the story from an outsider’s viewpoint.

How an Autobiography is Different from a Memoir

A memoir tells your own story, but not your entire life story. Often written to convey a specific message, a memoir includes snippets and anecdotes that occur throughout your entire life. Still, it’s not the detailed story of a life in its entirety. Both of these types of writing are done in the first-person point of view. First-person uses pronouns such as “I, we, and us.”

For example, if you were to write a memoir about how 9/11 affected you personally, you might write about your life the year that the attack occurred. You may even give some bits of information about your childhood, your career, or your family life from before the event. Then you would provide details and focus on 9/11 itself and what you did and were doing that day. Later, you might skip ahead and give stories from your life about how it changed you, but you wouldn’t tell the story of your entire life.

How to Write An Autobiography

Future Tense in an Autobiography

The future tense is tricky when it comes to writing. Most autobiographies recall events that have already occurred in a step-by-step process. This process takes the reader from the beginning to another point in the not-so-distant past or right up to the present.

The end is often written in the present tense, but most of the time, the story stops there. Basic principles of tense apply if you decide to speculate or include your hopes, dreams, or fears for the future.

Tips on How to Write an Autobiography

Your own autobiography should include details that encompass your life from birth to the present. When the writing process begins, you should write in the past tense to let the readers know that the events you are writing about have already occurred.

When you get to the present day, remember to switch your tense to the present tense so that the readers understand that you are discussing where you are in your life now. Mistakes in tense usage can be fixed in the first draft revision, but it’s best to try to get yourself in the habit of switching tenses as you go from the past events to the present day when you write an autobiography.

The following are other important tips about what content to include that will help you learn how to write an engaging and well-executed autobiography.

Autobiography Questions

Below are some autobiography questions that can guide you when writing about your life story:

  • What has motivated you to write an autobiography?
  • Who made a significant impact or influence in your life?
  • Who are the people who surround you?
  • What are the remarkable memories you have? 
  • Did anyone not support you on your journey and you proved them wrong?
  • What inspires you?
  • What demotivates you?
  • What do you consider the best time in your life?
  • What quote best depicts and summarizes your life?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What kind of family relationships do you have?
  • What moments in life do you feel like you could be truly proud of yourself?
  • What do you think are some of your flaws?
  • What do you desire to have in the future/where would you like to be?
  • What do you do to upskill, and in which field would you like to focus your energy?
  • What are your set of principles and personal values?
  • How have your values defined who you are today?
  • What is your dream career path?
  • Have you advocated for something?
  • If there was one thing you wanted everyone to know about you, what would it be?

Your Background

It’s essential to start by telling your readers where you’re from, when you were born, and who your family members are when you write an autobiography. 

This does not mean that you need to include how long your mother was in labor (unless the story of your birth is a particularly interesting one), what the hospital room number was, how much you weighed, how long you were, and what you scored on the Apgar test. Those are details that are nice to include in your baby book, but almost no one is interested in those details but you and your mom.

What you should include is where you were born (city, state, country), a story or two about a family member who meant a lot to you when you were a child or teenager, what your educational background was like, what kind of kid you were, and what your family life was like.

Keeping it general and sticking to just a few personal stories and anecdotes is enough. If you want to know how to write an autobiography that doesn’t bore the reader to tears or sleep within the first few pages, keep the details specific to significant events in your childhood, and keep the more drab and general stories to yourself.

Write About Hardship or Failure

While it may not be the most glamorous of life events you have experienced, writing about hard times, failure, and times of struggle help the reader relate to you, feel empathy and care about the story of your life. 

Making your life seem perfect simply because writing about something that didn’t work out, hurt you, or made you unpopular because you see it as embarrassing will only hurt you in the long run because the reader will not be engaged.

When you go back and read your first draft, ask yourself if what you have written will touch anyone who has struggled similarly to you. If not, go back and rewrite it to include at least a few stories of hard times.

Come Up with a Catchy and Compelling Title

Autobiographical writing doesn’t have to be boring, and neither should your title. Steer clear of titles such as; Jane Doe: An Autobiography. Unless you’re famous, you’re not compelling anyone to pick it up and read it. Equally boring is; Jane Doe: The Story of my Life.

How To How to write An Autobiography

Try to come up with something catchy and engaging when you come up with the title. Readers are more likely to read an autobiography written by someone with a witty or smart title than someone who didn’t have the writing skills or creativity to create something more original.

Instead, try for something like; A Beautiful Disaster: The Story of Jane Doe. This title denotes that you don’t take yourself too seriously, but you respect and love yourself while admitting that your life can sometimes be a mess.

You don’t even need to have your name in your title if you have a catchy title. Take this example into consideration; Hot Mess Express: The Story of One Tired Mom. This sort of title is fun, funny, and will catch the attention of mothers, especially those with young children.

Significant Events

When considering how to write an autobiography, keep in mind that significant events in your life should always be included. When you write an autobiography, you are looking for points in your personal story that impacted you and helped to shape you into the person that you are now.

Maybe that was a move across the country, the death of someone close to you, finding love, or your first kiss. Perhaps it was being the first person in your family to go to college, starting your own business, or the birth of your first child.

Be sure to include the less wonderful but still significant events in your life, as well. Things like your first heartbreak, divorce, the loss of a job, poverty you experienced, or trauma that compelled you to rise above your station and seek help to gain self-improvement or lessons learned from these experiences.

Have a Central Idea

What is the most important thing you want to say to the reader with this story? Is it that you started out with nothing and rose up to success? Is it that you had success and lost it all? Maybe it’s that love and dedication to family are more important than success in a career or climbing a social ladder.

Whatever your central idea, identify it and then figure out how you can put it in autobiography format.

The Steps Involved to Write an Autobiography

When thinking of how to write an autobiography, consider that the writing process begins in much the same way that it does with any sort of writing. You should consider following the following steps if you want to learn how to write an autobiography effectively.

Create an Autobiographical Outline

Just like any literary work, you should have an outline. After you have taken some time to reflect on what you want to include, get it written down in autobiography outline form. Include all of the parts of your life that you think you might want to incorporate, and then separate them into categories, focusing on what you think will be of medium to high interest to a reader.

What is meant by “medium to high interest” is that the events are significant enough to garner enough interest for the reader. That they will feel compelled to continue reading to see what happened to you next or how you got through an event or part of your life that you describe.

Do Your Homework

Just because you know what happened to you, and you have the general information and experiences from things like your childhood, it doesn’t mean that you have the knowledge to write it well.

If you don’t know how to describe the setting, society in the era you’re writing about, and the culture, it will seem that you don’t know how to write an autobiography, and readers will start to lose interest.

Look into things like the area you grew up in and what life was like in that area when you were a child. Get a family history from members of your family, such as where your family originated from, what your parents and grandparents did for a living, and any other significant information you may need that you don’t know about the people from whence you came.

Complete the First Draft

Your first draft may not be very clean, and it will most likely have things in it that need to be cut out. You may get too wordy talking about specific periods of your life and may not supply enough story to others. You won’t know until you get that first draft under your belt.

Once you complete this draft, take some time off and let the work sit. Taking a break before revisiting puts distance between yourself and your story, and you’re far more likely to be able to come at the revision process in an open-minded matter once you have that distance.

How To Write An Autobiography

Revise and Rewrite

As with any writing that you do, whether it’s an autobiography, novel, personal essay, research paper, or news article, you have to revise your work. Proofread, fix simple and obvious mistakes, and add to the things that need more description while cutting out the unnecessary parts.

Once you have fixed grammar mistakes and taken the story from what looks like a personal diary to a narrative account of your life experiences, you can start writing the next draft. Make sure to determine your desired writing style before you rewrite, and make sure that the content matches that style.

How to Properly Structure an Autobiography

Whether you’re writing a full-length book or an autobiographical essay, you still have to have structure to your writing. While an autobiographical essay is shorter, the structure is much the same. The following are some tips that will help you figure out how to write an autobiography format that works well.

Write in Chronological Order

While it’s perfectly fine for a novel to have a timeline that skips and jumps around, the best way to tell a good story of your own experiences and personal memories is to do so in chronological order or the order in which things happened.

The very beginning of your autobiography should cover your birth, then childhood, then education, then young adulthood, on up to the present moment. This creates a timeline of each significant personal experience that is easy to follow and doesn’t confuse the reader.

Don’t Fictionalize Names or Places

Professional writers of fiction often create characters based on people they know or even themselves. They give these characters fake names and personas and rename towns and businesses so as not to make the writing too personal. All the details of the real people may be present, but when you write fiction, you have the freedom to change things.

An autobiography covers actual events, so the writing needs to be honest. If you grew up in Toledo, Ohio, say that. Don’t make up the name of a town. If you grew up with a mother named Tess, say that. Don’t give her a fake name. Being truthful about your family and your life is essential. You’re not the only character in this story, and it’s unfair and not suitable to misrepresent a setting or person in your life.

Add Family Photos or Other Personal Touches

The most compelling television episodes are the ones in which there is a strong story and a strong visual to accompany it. You can create an effect very close to this by including photos, artwork, letters shared by people close to you, and more. Just be sure that you ask for and are granted permission before you do this, especially if the photos are used to identify weak moments in your life for any reason.

Be Thorough in Describing Pivotal Moments

Significant moments in life that occur, such as academic achievements, turning points, and the things that build up to a story arc for you, need to be built up in a way that creates both interest and intrigue for your reader. Include details like how negative experiences shaped your understanding or outlook on things or how you learned to be completely free of stress because of how stressful and frantic your life used to be.

These things make up the critical elements in what amounts to a full life. And being completely transparent and thorough in the telling of it gives the reader the freshest possible perspective, especially if you acknowledge as the writer that you are reflecting upon the story you’re telling, as you tell it.

The Final Draft When Writing an Autobiography

So you’ve completed all of the steps mentioned above, and you’ve worked out your outline, title, and other details that seem small but are incredibly important. Now it’s time to write the final draft so that your favorite story, the story of you, can become someone else’s favorite story.

The Last Revision

Once you have completed that final draft , you still need to go back and ensure that everything you wanted and needed to include is present and accounted for. Clarity is sometimes an issue when a person is trying to figure out how to write an autobiography. Try reading your story aloud, and if it makes sense to someone else or even to you as you read it with your own voice, then it’s probably thorough enough.

Make Sure the Title Agrees with the Content

The last thing you want is a misleading title. Make sure that the title goes along with your autobiography’s overall tone and message.

For example, if you wrote a sad story about heartache and loss of hope, don’t title your story: Little Miss Sunshine: The Story of One Woman from the Midwest. Be sure that the mood, message, and tone align with the title you have decided on. If they don’t fit, it’s much easier to change the title than the mood and tone of the story.

Autobiography Format

Below we have outlined the format that you can utilize when writing an autobiography:

  • Title – It should reflect what your life story conveys or what it is like to be you.
  • Dedication – This section states whom you would like to dedicate your autobiography.
  • Table of Contents – It helps your readers to locate specific parts of your autobiography.
  • Acknowledgments – This is where you express your gratitude to the people who have helped you on your journey.
  • Foreword – It highlights the purpose of the autobiography.
  • Introduction – This provides a glimpse of who you are as the author, and if this is effective, the reader will continue reading your book.
  • Body Section – This is where the events in your life are chronologically narrated, along with all the necessary details. It can contain many headings and subheadings.
  • Conclusion – This is where you share all your revelations and successes, while also referencing your own personal experiences.
  • Memorabilia – You may include significant pictures or any other objects that have impacted your life.
  • Index – It helps the reader browse through your autobiography by using main keywords or concept words.

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Writing Beginner

How To Write an Autobiography 2024 (Tips, Templates, & Guide)

Your life story has value, merit, and significance. You want to share it with the world, but maybe you don’t know how .

Here’s how to write an autobiography:

Write an autobiography by creating a list of the most important moments, people, and places in your life. Gather photos, videos, letters, and notes about these experiences. Then, use an outline, templates, sentence starters, and questions to help you write your autobiography .

In this article, you are going to learn the fastest method for writing your autobiography.

We are going to cover everything you need to know with examples and a free, downloadable, done-for-you template.

What Is an Autobiography?

Typewriter, lightbulb, and crumpled paper - How To Write an Autobiography

Table of Contents

Before you can write an autobiography, you must first know the definition.

An autobiography is the story of your life, written by you. It covers the full span of your life (at least, up until now), hitting on the most significant moments, people and events.

When you write your autobiography, you write an intimate account of your life.

What Should I Include In an Autobiography?

If you are scratching your head, baffled about what to include in your autobiography, you are not alone.

After all, a big part of how to write an autobiography is knowing what to put in and what to leave out of your life story. Do you focus on every detail?

Every person? Won’t your autobiography be too long?

A good way to think about how to write an autobiography is to use the Movie Trailer Method.

What do movie trailers include?

  • High emotional moments
  • The big events
  • The most important characters

When you plan, organize, and write your autobiography, keep the Movie Trailer Method in mind. You can even watch a bunch of free movie trailers on YouTube for examples of how to write an autobiography using the Movie Trailer Method.

When wondering what to include in your autobiography, focus on what would make the cut for a movie trailer of your life:

  • Most important people (like family, friends, mentors, coaches, etc.)
  • Significant events (like your origin story, vacations, graduations, life turning points, life lessons)
  • Emotional moments (When you were homeless, when you battled a life-threatening condition, or when you fell in love)
  • Drama or suspense (Did you make it into Harvard? Did your first surgery go well? Did your baby survive?)

Autobiography Structure Secrets

Like any compelling story, a well-structured autobiography often follows a pattern that creates a logical flow and captures readers’ attention.

Traditionally, autobiographies begin with early memories, detailing the writer’s childhood, family background, and the events or people that shaped their formative years.

From here, the narrative typically progresses chronologically, covering major life events like schooling, friendships, challenges, achievements, career milestones, and personal relationships.

It’s essential to weave these events with introspective insights.

This allows readers to understand not just the what, but also the why behind the author’s choices and experiences.

Towards the end, an effective autobiography often includes reflections on lessons learned, changes in perspective over time, and the wisdom acquired along life’s journey.

Example of the Structure:

  • Introduction: A gripping event or anecdote that gives readers a hint of what to expect. It could be a pivotal moment or challenge that defines the essence of the story.
  • Childhood and Early Memories: Recounting family dynamics, birthplace, cultural background, and memorable incidents from early years.
  • Adolescence and Discovering Identity: Experiences during teenage years, challenges faced, friendships formed, and personal evolutions.
  • Pursuits and Passions: Describing education, early career choices, or any particular hobby or skill that played a significant role in the author’s life.
  • Major Life Events and Challenges: Chronicles of marriage, parenthood, career shifts, or any significant setbacks and how they were overcome.
  • Achievements and Milestones: Celebrating major accomplishments and recounting the journey to achieving them.
  • Reflections and Wisdom: Sharing life lessons, changes in beliefs or values over time, and offering insights gained from lived experiences.
  • Conclusion: Summarizing the journey, contemplating on the present state, and sharing hopes or aspirations for the future.

How To Write an Autobiography Quickly: Strategies & Templates

Want the quickest way to organize and write your autobiography in record time? You can literally write your autobiography in 7 days or less with this method.

The secret is to use done-for-you templates.

I have personally designed and collected a series of templates to take you from a blank page to a fully complete Autobiography. I call this the How to Write an Autobiography Blueprint.

And it’s completely free to download right from this article. 🙂

In the How to Write an Autobiography Blueprint, you get:

  • The Autobiography Questions Template
  • The Autobiography Brainstorm Templates
  • The Autobiography Outline Template

Here is an image of it so that you know exactly what you get when you download it:

Autobiography Blueprint

How To Write an Autobiography: Step-by-Step

When you sit down to write an autobiography, it’s helpful to have a step-by-step blueprint to follow.

You already have the done-for-you templates that you can use to organize and write an autobiography faster than ever before. Now here’s a complete step-by-step guide on how to maximize your template.

  • Brainstorm Ideas
  • Order your sections (from medium to high interest)
  • Order the ideas in each section (from medium to high interest)
  • Write three questions to answer in each section
  • Choose a starter sentence
  • Complete a title template
  • Write each section of your by completing the starter sentence and answering all three questions

Brainstorm Your Autobiography

The first step in writing your autobiography is to brainstorm.

Give yourself time and space to write down the most significant people, events, lessons, and experiences in your life. The templates in the How to Write an Autobiography Blueprint provide sections for you to write down your brainstormed ideas.

How to Brainstorm Your Autobiography

This will help you organize your ideas into what will become the major sections of your book.

These will be:

  • Y our most significant events and experiences.
  • The people who impacted you the most.
  • The challenges you have overcome.
  • Your achievements and successes.
  • The lessons you have learned.

The “other” sections on the second page of the Brainstorm template is for creating your own sections or to give you more space for the sections I provided in case you run out of space.

As I brainstorm, I find asking myself specific questions really activates my imagination.

So I have compiled a list of compelling questions to help you get ideas down on paper or on your screen.

How to Write an Autobiography: Top 10 Questions

Order Your Sections (From Medium to High Interest)

The next step is to order your main sections.

The main sections are the five (or more) sections from your Brainstorm templates (Significant events, significant people, life lessons, challenges, successes, other, etc). This order will become the outline and chapters for your book.

How do you decide what comes first, second or third?

I recommend placing the sections in order of interest. Ask yourself, “What’s the most fascinating part of my life?”

If it’s a person, then write the name of that section (Significant People) on the last line in the How to Write an Autobiography Outline Template. If it’s an experience, place the name of that section (Significant Events) on the last line.

For example, if you met the Pope, you might want to end with that nugget from your life. If you spent three weeks lost at sea and survived on a desert island by spearfishing, that is your ending point.

Then complete the Outline by placing the remaining sections in order of interest. You can work your way backward from high interest to medium interest.

If you are wondering why I say “medium to high interest” instead of “low to high interest” it is because there should be no “low interest” parts of your autobiography.

But wait, what if you met the Pope AND spent three weeks lost at sea? How do you choose which one comes first or last?

First of all, I want to read this book! Second, when in doubt, default to chronological order. Whatever event happened first, start there.

Here is an example of how it might look:

Autobiography Example

Order The Ideas in Each Section (From Medium To High Interest)

Now, organize the ideas inside of each section. Again, order the ideas from medium to high interest).

Within your “Significant People” section, decide who you want to talk about first, second, third, etc. You can organize by chronological order (who you met first) but I recommend building to the most interesting or most significant person.

This creates a more compelling read.

Keep in mind that the most significant person might not be the most well-known, most famous, or most popular. The most significant person might be your family member, friend, partner, or child.

It comes down to who shaped your life the most.

So, if your “significant people list” includes your dad, a famous social media influencer, and Mike Tyson, your dad might come last because he had the biggest significance in your life.

Write Three Questions to Answer in Each Section

Ok, you’ve done the heavy lifting already. You have the major sections organized and outlined.

Next on your autobiography to-do list is to choose and write down three questions you are going to answer in each section. You can write your questions down in the provided “boxes” for each section on the template outline (or on another piece of paper.

This is easier than it might seem.

Simply choose one of the sample autobiography questions below or create your own:

  • Why did I choose this person/event?
  • What does this person/event mean to me?
  • How did I meet this person?
  • Where did it happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How did it happen?
  • What is the most interesting part?
  • How did I feel about this person or event?
  • How do I feel now?
  • Why does this person or event matters to me?
  • How did this person or event change my life?
  • What is the most challenging part?
  • How did I fail?
  • How did I succeed?
  • What did I learn?

Questions are the perfect way to write quickly and clearly. I LOVE writing to questions. It’s how I write these blog posts and articles.

Choose a Starter Sentence

Sometimes the hardest part of any project is knowing how to start.

Even though we know we can always go back and edit our beginnings, so many of us become paralyzed with indecision at the starting gate.

That’s why I provided sample starter sentences in your How to Write an Autobiography Blueprint.

Here are the story starters:

  • I began writing this book when…
  • Of all the experiences in my life, this one was the most…
  • I’ve been a…
  • My name is…
  • Growing up in…
  • It wasn’t even a…
  • It all started when…
  • I first…
  • I was born…

Keep in mind that you do not need to begin your book with one of these story starters. I provide them simply to get you going.

The key is to not get bogged down in this, or any, part of writing your autobiography. Get organized and then get writing.

Complete a Title Template

At the top of the How to Write an Autobiography Outline is a place for you to write your book title.

Some authors struggle forever with a title. And that’s ok. What’s not ok is getting stuck. What’s not ok is if coming up with your title prevents you from finishing your book.

So, I provided a few title templates to help juice your creativity.

Just like the story starters, you do not need to use these title templates, but you certainly can. All you need to do is fill in the title templates below and then write your favorite one (for now) at the top of your outline. Presto! You have your working title.

You can always go back and change it later.

How to Write an Autobiography Title templates:

  • [Your Name]: [Phrase or Tag Line]
  • The [Your Last Name] Files
  • Born [Activity]: A [Career]’s Life
  • The Perfect [Noun]: The Remarkable Life of [Your Name]

Examples using the Templates:

  • Christopher Kokoski: Blog Until You Drop
  • The Kokoski Files
  • Born Writing: A Blogger’s Life
  • The Perfect Freelancer: The Remarkable Life of Christopher Kokoski

Write Your Autobiography

You have your outline. You have your title, templates, and sentence starters. All that is left to do is write your autobiography.

However, you can use tools like Jasper AI and a few other cool tricks to craft the most riveting book possible.

This is the easy way to remarkable writing.

Check out this short video that goes over the basics of how to write an autobiography:

How To Write an Autobiography (All the Best Tips)

Now that you are poised and ready to dash out your first draft, keep the following pro tips in mind:

  • Be vulnerable. The best autobiographies share flaws, faults, foibles, and faux pas. Let readers in on the real you.
  • Skip the boring parts. There is no need to detail every meal, car ride, or a gripping trip to the grocery store. Unless you ran into the Russian Mafia near the vegetables or the grocery store is perched on the side of a mountain above the jungles of Brazil.
  • Keep your autobiography character-driven . This is the story of YOU!
  • Be kind to others (or don’t). When writing about others in your story, keep in mind that there may be fallout or backlash from your book.
  • Consider a theme: Many autobiographies are organized by theme. A perfect example is Becoming . Each section of the book includes “becoming” in the title. Themes connect and elevate each part of the autobiography.
  • Write your story in vignettes (or scenes). Each vignette is a mini-story with a beginning, middle, and end. Each vignette builds. Each vignette should be described in rich sensory language that shows the reader the experience instead of telling the reader about the experience. Each vignette is immersive, immediate, and intimate.
  • Include snippets of dialogue. Use quotation marks just like in fiction. Show the dialogue in brief back-and-forth tennis matches of conversation. Remember to leave the boring parts out!
  • Choose a consistent tone. Some autobiographies are funny like Bossy Pants by Tina Fey. Others are serious such as Open by Andre Agassi. Your story (like most stories) will likely include a mix of emotions but choose an overall tone and stick with it.
  • Don’t chronicle, captivate . Always think about how to make each section, each chapter, each page, each paragraph, and each sentence more compelling. You want to tell the truth, but HOW you tell the truth is up to you. Create suspense, conflict, and mystery. Let drama linger until it becomes uncomfortable. Don’t solve problems quickly or take away tension right away.

How Do I Format an Autobiography?

Most autobiographies are written in the first person (using the pronouns I, me, we, and us).

Your autobiography is written about you so write as yourself instead of pretending to be writing about someone else.

Most autobiographies are also written in chronological order, from birth right up to your current age, with all the boring parts left out. That doesn’t mean you can’t play around with the timeline.

Sometimes it’s more interesting to start at a high moment, backtrack to the beginning and show how you got to that high moment.

Whatever format you choose, be intentional, and make the choice based on making the most compelling experience possible for your readers.

How Long Should an Autobiography Be?

There are no rules to how long an autobiography should be but a rough guideline is to aim for between 200 and 400 pages.

This will keep your book in line with what most readers expect for books in general, and will help get your book traditionally published or help with marketing your self-published book.

How To Write a Short Autobiography

You write a short autobiography the same way that you write a long autobiography.

You simply leave more out of the story.

You cut everything down to the bones. Or you choose a slice of your life as you do in a memoir. This often means limiting the people in your book, reducing the events and experiences, and shrinking your story to a few pivotal moments in your life.

How To Start an Autobiography

The truth is that you can start your autobiography in any number of ways.

Here are four common ways to begin an autobiography.

  • Start at the beginning (of your life, career or relationship, etc.)
  • Start at a high moment of drama or interest.
  • Start at the end of the story and work backward
  • Start with why you wrote the book.

Good Autobiography Titles

If you are still stuck on titling your autobiography, consider going to Amazon to browse published works. You can even just Google “autobiographies.”

When you read the titles of 10, 20, or 50 other autobiographies, you will start to see patterns or get ideas for your own titles. (HINT: the title templates in the Autobiography Blueprint were reverse-engineered from popular published books.

Also, check out the titles of the full autobiography examples below that I have included right here in this article.

Types of Autobiographies

There are several different kinds of autobiographies.

Each one requires a similar but slightly nuanced approach to write effectively. The lessons in this article will serve as a great starting point.

Autobiography Types:

  • Autobiography for School
  • Autobiography Novel
  • Autobiography for a Job
  • Short Autobiography
  • Autobiography for Kids

Therefore, there is actually not just one way to write an autobiography.

Memoir vs. Autobiography: Are They The Same?

It’s common to feel confused about a memoir and an autobiography. I used to think they were the same thing.

But, nope, they’re not.

They are pretty similar, which is the reason for all the confusion. A memoir is the story of one part of your life. An autobiography is the story of your full life (up until now).

What Is the Difference Between an Autobiography and a Biography?

An autobiography is when you write about your own life. A biography, on the other hand, is when you write the story of someone else’s life.

So, if I write a book about the life of the President, that’s a biography.

If the President writes a story about his or her own life, that’s an autobiography.

What Not To Include In an Autobiography

Autobiographies are meant to be a snapshot of our lives that we can share with others, but there are some things that are best left out.

Here are three things you should avoid including in your autobiography:

1) Anything That Readers Will Skip

Your life may not be filled with non-stop excitement, but that doesn’t mean you need to include every mundane detail in your autobiography.

Stick to the highlights and leave out the low points.

2) Character Attacks on Others

It’s okay to discuss conflicts you’ve had with others, but don’t use your autobiography as a platform to attack someone’s character.

Keep it civil and focus on your own experiences and how they’ve affected you.

3) Skipping Highlights

Just because something embarrassing or painful happened to you doesn’t mean you should gloss over it in your autobiography.

These are the moments that shape us and make us who we are today, so don’t skip past them just because they’re uncomfortable.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your autobiography is interesting, honest, and engaging.

How To Write an Autobiography: Autobiography Examples

I have always found examples to be extremely instructive. Especially complete examples of finished products. In this case, books.

Below you will find examples of published autobiographies for adults and for kids. These examples will guide you, motivate you and inspire you to complete your own life story.

They are listed here as examples, not as endorsements, although I think they are all very good.

The point is that you don’t have to agree with anything written in the books to learn from them.

Autobiography Examples for Adults

  • A Promised Land (Autobiography of Barack Obama)
  • If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t) (Betty White)
  • It’s a Long Story: My Life (Willie Nelson)
  • Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography (Rob Lowe)
  • Becoming (Michelle Obama)

Autobiography Examples for Kids

  • This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (NOT Disability) (Aaron Philips)
  • Bee Fearless: Dream Like a Kid (Mikaila Ulmer)

Tools to Write Your Autobiography

Here are some recommended tools to help you write your autobiography:

Final Thoughts: How To Write An Autobiography

Thank you for reading my article on How to Write an Autobiography.

Now that you know all of the secrets to write your book, you may want to get it published, market it, and continue to upskill yourself as an author.

In that case, read these posts next:

  • Can Anyone Write A Book And Get It Published?
  • The Best Writing Books For Beginners 2022 (My 10 Favorites)
  • Why Do Writers Hate Adverbs? (The Final Answer)
  • How To Write a Manifesto: 20 Ultimate Game-Changing Tips

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how to write a critical autobiography

Shaping Your Legacy: How to Write a Compelling Autobiography

  • The Speaker Lab
  • March 12, 2024

Table of Contents

Ever thought about how your life story would read if it were a book? Writing an autobiography is like creating a map of your personal journey, each chapter representing milestones that shaped you. But where do you start and how can you ensure the tale holds interest?

This guide will help unravel those questions by delving into what makes an autobiography stand out, planning techniques to keep your narrative on track, writing tips for engaging storytelling, and even ethical considerations when revealing private aspects of your life.

We’ll also touch on refining drafts and navigating publishing options. By the end of this read, you’ll be equipped with all the insights you need to create a compelling autobiography!

Understanding the Essence of an Autobiography

An autobiography provides a comprehensive view of one’s life journey from birth to the present day. Imagine climbing into a time machine where every chapter represents different eras in your life. The goal of an autobiography is to allow readers to explore a factual, chronological telling of the author’s life.

Autobiographies aren’t merely catalogues of events, however; they need soulful introspection too. Think about why certain episodes mattered more than others and how those experiences influenced your perspectives or decisions later on.

You’ll also want to infuse emotional honesty, allowing yourself vulnerability when recalling both triumphant milestones and painful obstacles. Authenticity creates connections between authors and their audience, so let them see real human emotions behind every word written.

Distinguishing Features Of An Autobiography

The unique thing about autobiographies is they are first-person narratives . This allows readers to experience everything through your eyes, as if they’re living vicariously through you. From triumphs to trials, each page unravels another layer of who you are.

While memoirs are also first-person narratives of a person’s life, there are different from autobiographies. In a memoir, the author focuses on a particular time period or theme in their life. If you’d rather skip the details and dates needed for an autobiography and focus more on emotional truths, you might consider writing a memoir.

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Pre-Writing Stage: Planning Your Autobiography

The planning stage is a crucial part of writing your autobiography. It’s where you map out the significant events in your life, establish a timeline, and identify who will be reading your story.

Selecting Key Life Events

To start, you need to pinpoint key moments that have shaped you. While you will include plenty of factual details in your autobiography, you won’t include every single one. Rather, you’ll be spending the majority of your autobiography focusing on the transformative experiences that defined your life journey. After all, an autobiography is not just a catalogue of events; it’s also an exploration into what these experiences meant to you.

Establishing A Timeline

Next up is establishing a timeline for your narrative flow. Since you’re writing an autobiography, it’s important to first map out your story chronologically so that you can keep your events straight in your mind. MasterClass has several suggestions for key elements you might want to include in your timeline.

Identifying Your Audience

Finding out who’ll read your book helps shape its tone and style. Self-Publishing School says understanding whether it’s for close family members or broader public can guide how personal or universal themes should be presented.

While this process might feel overwhelming initially, take time with this stage. Good planning sets solid foundations for creating an engaging autobiography.

Writing Techniques for an Engaging Autobiography

If you’re on the journey to pen down your life story, let’s dive into some techniques that can help transform it from a simple narrative into a riveting read. An engaging autobiography is more than just facts and dates—it’s about weaving your experiences in such a way that they captivate readers.

Incorporating Dialogue

The first technique involves incorporating dialogue. Rather than telling your audience what happened, show them through conversations. It lets the reader experience events as if they were there with you. As renowned author Stephen King suggests , dialogue is crucial in defining a the character of a person (including yourself).

Using Vivid Descriptions

Vivid descriptions are another effective tool in creating an immersive reading experience. But remember: overdoing it might overwhelm or bore the reader, so find balance between being descriptive and concise.

Narrative Techniques

Different narrative techniques can also enhance storytelling in autobiographies. For instance, foreshadowing creates suspense; flashbacks provide deeper context; and stream of consciousness presents thoughts as they occur naturally—a powerful way to share personal reflections.

All these writing tools combined will give you a gripping account of your life journey—one where every turn of page reveals more layers of depth and dimensionality about who you are as both character and narrator.

Structuring Your Autobiography for Maximum Impact

Deciding on the right structure for your autobiography is essential to ensure your book captivates readers and keeps them engaged.

The first step towards structuring your autobiography effectively is deciding whether to organize it chronologically or thematically. A chronological approach takes readers on a journey through time, letting each event unfold as you experienced it. On the other hand, a thematic approach revolves around central themes that have defined your life—think resilience, ambition or transformation—and might jump back and forth in time.

Creating Chapters

An effective way to manage the vast amount of information in an autobiography is by dividing it into chapters. Each chapter should be structured around a specific time frame (if you’re opting for chronological order) or theme (if taking the thematic approach). The key here isn’t necessarily sticking rigidly to these categories but using them as guides to help shape and direct your narrative flow.

Crafting Compelling Beginnings and Endings

A strong beginning pulls people into your world while an impactful ending stays with them long after they’ve closed the book—a little like how memorable speeches often start with something surprising yet relatable and end leaving audiences pondering over what they’ve heard. So consider starting off with something unexpected that gives insight into who you are rather than birthplace/date details right away. For endings, look at wrapping up major themes from throughout the book instead of simply closing out on latest happenings in your life.

Remember, structuring an autobiography is as much about the art of storytelling as it is about chronicling facts. Use structure to draw readers in and take them on a journey through your life’s highs and lows—all the moments that made you who you are today.

Ethical Considerations When Writing an Autobiography

When penning your life story, it’s important to respect privacy and handle sensitive issues well. Because let’s face it, writing about others in our lives can be a slippery slope. We need to tread carefully.

Respecting Privacy: Telling Your Story Without Invading Others’

The first thing we have to consider is the right of privacy for those who cross paths with our narrative journey. While they might play crucial roles in our stories, remember that their experiences are their own too.

A good rule of thumb is to get explicit consent before mentioning anyone extensively or revealing sensitive information about them. In some cases where this isn’t possible, anonymizing details or using pseudonyms could help maintain privacy while keeping the essence of your story intact. Author Tracy Seeley sheds more light on how one should handle such situations responsibly.

Navigating Sensitive Topics With Care

Sensitive topics often make for compelling narratives but dealing with them requires tact and empathy. You’re walking a tightrope, balancing honesty and sensitivity, a fall from which can lead to hurt feelings or even legal troubles.

An excellent way around this dilemma would be by focusing on how these experiences affected you personally rather than detailing the event itself. Remember, your autobiography is an opportunity to share your life experiences, not just a platform for airing grievances or settling scores.

Maintaining Honesty: Your Authentic Self Is the Best Narrator

Above all else, stay truthful when writing your autobiography, both when you’re writing about sensitive topics and even when you’re not. While it can be tempting to bend the facts so that your audience sees you in a more positive light, maintaining honesty is the best thing you can do for yourself.

Editing and Revising Your Autobiography

Your initial draft is finished, but the job isn’t done yet. Editing and revising your autobiography can feel like a daunting task, but it’s essential for creating a polished final product.

The Importance of Self-Editing

You may feel that you have written your autobiography perfectly the first time, but there are always ways to make it better. The beauty of self-editing lies in refining your story to make sure it resonates with readers. You’re not just fixing typos or grammar mistakes; you’re looking at structure, flow, and consistency. Essentially you’re asking yourself: does this piece tell my life story in an engaging way?

Inviting Feedback from Others

No matter how meticulous we are as writers, our own work can sometimes evade us. Inviting feedback from others is invaluable during the revision process. They provide fresh eyes that can spot inconsistencies or confusing parts that may have slipped past us.

Hiring a Professional Editor

If you’re serious about publishing your autobiography and making an impact with your words, hiring a professional editor can be worth its weight in gold. An editor won’t just fix errors—they’ll help streamline sentences and enhance readability while respecting your unique voice.

Remember to approach editing and revising with patience—it’s part of the writing journey. Don’t rush through it; give each word careful consideration before moving onto publication options for your autobiography.

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Publishing Options for Your Autobiography

Once you’ve spent time and energy creating your autobiography, the following challenge is to make it available for others. But don’t fret! There are numerous options available for releasing your work.

Traditional Publishing Houses

A conventional path many authors take is partnering with a traditional publishing house . These industry giants have extensive resources and networks that can help boost the visibility of your book. The process may be competitive, but if accepted, they handle everything from design to distribution—letting you focus on what matters most: telling your story.

Self-Publishing Platforms

If you want more control over every aspect of publication or seek a faster route to market, self-publishing platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), offer an accessible alternative. With this option, you manage all aspects including cover design and pricing ; however, it also means greater responsibility in promoting your book.

Bear in mind that both options have their own pros and cons, so consider them carefully before making any decisions.

Marketing Your Autobiography

Now that you’ve crafted your autobiography, it’s time to get the word out. You need a plan and strategy.

Leveraging Social Media

To start with, use your social platforms as launching pads for your book. Sites like Facebook , Twitter, and especially LinkedIn can help generate buzz about your work. And don’t underestimate the power of other platforms like Instagram and TikTok when trying to reach younger audiences. Whatever social platform you use, remember to engage with followers by responding to comments and questions about the book.

Organizing Book Signings

A physical event like a book signing not only provides readers with a personal connection but also generates local publicity. Consider partnering up with local independent stores or libraries, which are often open to hosting such events.

Securing Media Coverage

Contacting local newspapers, radio stations or even bloggers and podcasters in your field can provide much-needed visibility for your work. It might seem intimidating at first, but who better than you knows how important this story is?

FAQs on How to Write an Autobiography

How do i start an autobiography about myself.

To kick off your autobiography, jot down significant life events and pick a unique angle that frames your story differently.

What are the 7 steps in writing an autobiography?

The seven steps are: understanding what an autobiography is, planning it out, using engaging writing techniques, structuring it effectively, considering ethics, revising thoroughly, and exploring publishing options.

What are the 3 parts of an autobiography?

An autobiography generally has three parts: introduction (your background), body (major life events), and conclusion (reflections on your journey).

What is the format for writing an autobiography?

The usual format for autobiographies involves chronological or thematic structure with clear chapters marking distinct phases of life.

Writing an autobiography is a journey, a trek exploring the unique narrative of your life. Together, we’ve covered how to plan effectively, select key events, and set timelines.

Once you’re all set to write, you now have the techniques you need for engaging storytelling, including vivid descriptions and dialogues. You also learned about structuring your story for maximum impact and navigating sensitive topics while maintaining honesty.

Last but not least, you learned editing strategies, publishing options, and effective ways of promoting your book.

Now you know more than just how to write an autobiography. You know how to craft a legacy worth reading!

  • Last Updated: March 22, 2024

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how to write a critical autobiography

How to Write an Autobiography

how to write a critical autobiography

Writing your autobiography is like exploring a treasure trove of memories that make up your life. But starting can feel overwhelming. Where do you begin? How do you turn your experiences into a compelling story? Don't worry – this guide is here to help. Whether you're a seasoned writer or a total beginner, we'll break down the process of how to write your autobiography into easy-to-follow steps. Together, we'll uncover the magic of storytelling and turn your life into a captivating reflective essay that's uniquely yours. Get ready to start this adventure of self-discovery and creativity!

What Is an Autobiography

The autobiography definition explains it is a written account of a person's life penned by the individual who has lived those experiences. It is a personal narrative that chronicles significant events, reflections, and emotions throughout various stages of the author's life. Unlike a biography, which is typically written by someone else, an autobiography provides a firsthand perspective, allowing the author to share their thoughts, memories, and insights. It is a cogent medium for self-expression, enabling students to convey the essence of their unique journey, impart lessons learned, and leave a lasting record of their lives for themselves and others to explore.

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Autobiography vs. Biography: What’s the Difference

The key distinction between an autobiography and a biography lies in the authorship and perspective. An autobiography is a personal account of one's own life written by the subject themselves. It offers an intimate insight into the author's experiences, emotions, and reflections. For instance, in "The Diary of a Young Girl," Anne Frank provides a poignant autobiographical account of her life hiding from the Nazis during World War II. On the other hand, a biography is a narrative of someone's life written by another person. It often involves extensive research and interviews to present a comprehensive and objective view. A notable example is "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, a biography offering an in-depth portrayal of the Apple co-founder, drawing on interviews with Jobs himself and those who knew him. While both genres illuminate lives, the crucial difference lies in the source of the narrative – whether it emanates directly from the subject or is crafted by an external observer.

A biography vs autobiography offers distinct perspectives on individuals' lives, shaping narratives through either personal reflections or external observations. Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is a powerful autobiography chronicling her tumultuous childhood and journey toward self-discovery. In contrast, a notable biography like "Leonardo da Vinci" by Walter Isaacson delves into the life of the Renaissance polymath, painting a vivid picture through meticulous research and analysis. Autobiographies often provide a deeply personal lens, as seen in "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls, where Walls recounts her unconventional upbringing. In contrast, biographies such as "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand meticulously document the extraordinary life of Louis Zamperini, offering a comprehensive view shaped by the author's investigative work. These examples underscore the unique storytelling approaches each genre employs, either from the firsthand perspective of the subject or the external perspective of an author.

Autobiography Example

Ready to explore autobiography examples? We've got a cool section coming up where we'll check out two awesome examples. Autobiographies are like personal tours into someone's life, and we'll be looking at the stories of Alex Sterling and Trevor Noah. They've poured their experiences onto the pages, and we're going to see what we can learn from their journeys. Get ready to be inspired and maybe even think about telling your own story down the line. Let's dive in!

autobiography

Example 1: “Wanderer's Odyssey: The Uncharted Life of Alex Sterling”

This autobiography recounts the life of a character born in a bustling city who, driven by a thirst for adventure, leaves behind urban life to explore the open road. The narrative explores the protagonist's experiences of hitchhiking, forming connections, and finding self-discovery in the midst of the unpredictable journey. The story emphasizes the lessons learned from the road, the challenges faced, and the ultimate embrace of authenticity. The epilogue reflects on the character's life as a well-lived odyssey, highlighting themes of resilience, connection, and the pursuit of one's true identity.

Example 2: “Echoes of Eternity: The Memoirs of Amelia Reed”

This autobiography follows a character from a countryside village who harbors expansive dreams of adventure. The narrative unfolds as the protagonist sets out to pursue these dreams, facing trials and triumphs that shape their character and lead to self-discovery. The story emphasizes the transformative power of embracing the unknown, with the epilogue reflecting on a life well-lived, highlighting the legacy of fulfilled dreams and the enduring impact on future generations. In addition to examples, we have samples of narrative essay topics that might be useful for you as well.

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Autobiography Elements Explained

Writing an autobiography provides a personal account of one's experiences, achievements, challenges, and personal growth. While each autobiography is unique, certain common elements are often found in this genre:

Introduction

  • Autobiographies typically begin with an introduction where the author sets the stage for their life story.
  • It may include background information such as birthplace, family, and early experiences.

Birth and Early Years

  • Authors often include details about their birth, childhood, and family background.
  • Early influences, relationships, and experiences that shaped the individual may be highlighted.

Significant Life Events

  • Autobiographies focus on key events and milestones that have had a significant impact on the author's life.
  • This could include achievements, failures, relationships, and other impactful experiences.

Challenges and Obstacles

  • Autobiographies explore the challenges and obstacles the author faced throughout their life.
  • This can include personal struggles, professional setbacks, or other difficulties.

Personal Growth and Development

  • Authors reflect on their personal growth and development over the years.
  • This may involve self-discovery, learning from experiences, and evolving perspectives.

Achievements and Milestones

  • Autobiographies highlight the author's achievements, whether personal, professional, or both.
  • Major milestones and successes are often detailed to showcase the individual's journey.

Influential Relationships

  • Autobiographies frequently discuss relationships with family, friends, mentors, and significant others.
  • The impact of these relationships on the author's life is explored.

Reflection and Insight

  • Authors often reflect on their lives, offering insights into their beliefs, values, and lessons learned.
  • This section may also include the author's perspective on the world and society.

Themes and Motifs

  • Autobiographies may explore recurring themes or motifs that run throughout the individual's life.
  • Common themes include resilience, determination, love, loss, and personal identity.
  • Autobiographies typically conclude with a summary or reflection on the author's life.
  • The author may share their current perspective and future aspirations.

Writing Style

  • The writing style can vary, ranging from a formal tone to a more conversational and reflective approach.
  • Authors may use literary devices and storytelling techniques to engage readers.

Remember that autobiographies are highly personal, and the structure and emphasis on different elements can vary widely depending on the author's preferences and purpose for writing.

Autobiographical Essay Structure

Autobiographies typically follow a chronological order, beginning with the author's early life and progressing towards the present or a significant moment. The introduction sets the stage, introducing the author and offering insight into the main themes. As you can see in an autobiography example, the narrative then unfolds, exploring the author's significant life events, challenges faced, and personal growth. Achievements and milestones are highlighted, and the impact of influential relationships is examined. Throughout, recurring themes and motifs add depth to the narrative. In the reflection and insight section, the author shares personal lessons learned and beliefs. The conclusion summarizes the autobiography, reflecting on the author's life and future aspirations.

Autobiographical Essay Structure

Learning how to start an autobiography involves captivating the reader's attention while providing context. Authors often employ engaging anecdotes, vivid descriptions, or thought-provoking statements related to the overarching theme of their lives. The goal is to draw readers in from the beginning and establish a connection between the author and the audience. In the introduction, authors can introduce themselves to the reader. This can be done by sharing a captivating snapshot of their life or posing a question that intrigues the audience. The autobiography introduction sets the tone for the entire narrative, providing a glimpse into the themes and events that will be explored in the autobiography.

The autobiography conclusion offers the culmination of the author's life story. Here, authors often summarize the key points and experiences shared throughout the narrative. It is a moment of reflection, where the author can offer insights into the significance of their journey and the lessons learned along the way. The conclusion may also touch on the author's current perspective, providing a sense of closure to the narrative while leaving room for future aspirations and growth.

Literary Forms of Autobiography

Autobiographies, while generally a non-fiction genre, can take on various literary forms and styles. Here are some literary forms commonly found in autobiographical works:

Traditional Autobiography

  • The straightforward narrative of an individual's life, which is usually written by the person themselves. It follows a chronological order, covering significant events and experiences.
  • Similar to an autobiography but often focusing on specific themes, periods, or aspects of the author's life rather than a comprehensive account. Memoirs often delve into personal reflections and emotions.

Diary or Journal Form

  • Some autobiographies adopt the form of a diary or journal, presenting the author's life through dated entries. This format provides a more immediate and personal perspective.

Epistolary Autobiography

  • Written in the form of letters, an epistolary autobiography may consist of the author addressing themselves or others. This style adds an intimate and conversational tone to the narrative.

Graphic Novel or Comic Memoir

  • Autobiographical stories are presented in a graphic novel or comic format. Visual elements complement the written narrative, providing a unique and engaging way to convey personal experiences.

Experimental or Nonlinear Autobiography

  • Some authors choose to play with the chronological order, presenting their life story non-linearly. This experimental approach can create a more artistic and challenging reading experience.

Biographical Fiction

  • While not entirely autobiographical, some authors write fictionalized versions of their own lives. It allows for creative exploration and artistic liberties while drawing inspiration from real experiences.

Travelogue Autobiography

  • Autobiographies that take on the form of a travelogue often focus on the author's journeys, both physical and metaphorical. The narrative is shaped by the places visited and the impact of these experiences on personal growth.

Essayistic Autobiography

  • Autobiographies that incorporate elements of essays, exploring themes, ideas, and reflections on the author's life. This form allows for a more contemplative and philosophical approach.

Collaborative Autobiography

  • Co-written autobiographies involve collaboration between the autobiographical subject and a professional writer. It is common when the subject may not be a writer but has a compelling story to share.

These literary forms highlight the versatility of autobiographical writing, showcasing how authors can creatively shape their life stories to engage readers in various ways. Are you working on other academic assignments? Use our term paper writing services to put your finger on any pending task at hand quickly and for a reasonable price.

How to Write an Autobiography in 5 Steps

Writing an autobiography can be a rewarding and reflective process. Here's a simplified guide in 5 steps to help you get started:

Step 1: Reflection and Brainstorming

Begin by reflecting on your life, considering important events, challenges, and moments of growth. Make a mental inventory of key experiences and people who have influenced you.

Step 2: Establish a Focus

Choose a central theme or focus for your autobiography. This could be a specific period of your life, a significant achievement, or a recurring theme that ties your experiences together. Having a clear focus will guide your writing.

Step 3: Create a Chronological Outline

Develop a rough chronological outline of your life story, starting from your early years and progressing through significant events to the present or another crucial point. Identify key moments and experiences to include in each section.

Step 4: Write with Detail and Emotion

An important aspect of writing an autobiography for college is appealing to emotion. As you delve into each body paragraph, share your story with vivid details. Use descriptive language to bring your experiences to life for the reader. Infuse your writing with emotion, allowing readers to connect with the depth of your personal journey.

Step 5: Conclude Reflectively

In the concluding section, summarize the key aspects of your life story. Reflect on the significance of your journey, the lessons you've learned, and how you've grown. Provide insights into your current perspective and aspirations for the future, bringing your autobiography to a thoughtful conclusion.

Writing Techniques to Use in an Autobiography

When you write an autobiography, the process involves employing various techniques to make the narrative engaging, evocative, and compelling. Here are some tips for writing autobiography commonly used in autobiographies:

Descriptive Language

  • Use vivid and descriptive language to paint a detailed picture of events, people, and settings. Engage the reader's senses to create a more immersive experience.
  • Incorporate dialogue to bring conversations to life. Direct quotes can provide authenticity and convey the personalities of the people involved.

Show, Don't Tell

  • Instead of merely stating facts, show the emotions and experiences through actions, reactions, and sensory details. 

Flashbacks and Foreshadowing

  • Employ flashbacks to delve into past events and foreshadowing to create anticipation about future developments. 

Metaphors and Similes

  • Use metaphors and similes to enhance descriptions and convey complex emotions. Comparisons can make abstract concepts more relatable.
  • Integrate symbols and motifs that hold personal significance. This adds depth to the narrative and can be a thematic thread throughout the autobiography.

Humor and Wit

  • Infuse your writing with humor and wit when appropriate. 
  • Introduce suspense by strategically withholding information or revealing key details at crucial moments. 

First-Person Perspective

  • Utilize the first-person point of view to offer a direct and personal connection between the author and the reader. 

Dramatic Irony

  • Introduce dramatic irony by revealing information to the reader that the author may not have known at the time.

Parallelism

  • Create parallel structures within the narrative, drawing connections between different periods, events, or themes in your life. 

Experimenting with different styles can make your story more engaging and memorable for readers. If you haven’t used these techniques in your paper, simply say, ‘ edit my essay ,’ and our experts will imbue stylistic and creative devices in your document to increase its scholarly value.

Benefits of Writing an Autobiography

Working on an autobiography can be incredibly beneficial on a personal level. When you take the time to reflect on your life and put it into words, you gain a deeper understanding of yourself. It's like a journey of self-discovery where you uncover patterns, values, and beliefs that have shaped who you are. This process not only promotes self-awareness but can also help you grow and bounce back from tough times. Writing about challenging moments can be a therapeutic release, allowing you to confront and make sense of your experiences, leading to emotional healing.

On a broader scale, sharing your life story through an autobiography has its impact. It becomes a piece of history, offering insights into the times you've lived through, the culture around you, and societal changes. Your personal narrative connects you with others, creating empathy and understanding. Autobiographies often inspire people by showing that it's possible to overcome challenges, find purpose, and navigate the ups and downs of life. By sharing your story, you become a part of the larger human experience, contributing to a rich tapestry of diverse stories that help us better understand the shared journey of being human. Order an essay or any other type of task to streamline your educational progress is only a few clicks.

Best Piece of Advice for Making Your Autobiography Spot-on

The most valuable advice is to infuse authenticity into every word. Be genuine, raw, and honest about your experiences, emotions, and growth. Readers connect deeply with authenticity, and it's what makes your story uniquely yours. Don't shy away from expressing vulnerability, as it adds a human touch and makes your narrative relatable. Share the highs and lows, the triumphs and struggles, with sincerity, and let your true self shine through. This honesty not only enhances the impact of your autobiography but also contributes to a more profound connection between you and your readers, creating an authentic and memorable narrative. Here are additional tips for bringing your autobiography assignment up to par:

  • Essential Details. Focus on key moments that significantly contribute to your story, avoiding unnecessary details.
  • Thematic Cohesion. Introduce and explore recurring themes to add depth and coherence to your narrative.
  • Authentic Expression. Embrace your unique voice, personality, and storytelling style to create an authentic connection with readers.
  • Dialogue and Monologue. Use genuine dialogue and inner monologue to provide insights into your thoughts and emotions during pivotal moments.
  • Symbolic Elements. Incorporate symbolic imagery or metaphors to convey deeper meanings and emotions.
  • Strategic Foreshadowing. Use foreshadowing purposefully, providing subtle hints that contribute meaningfully to the overall narrative.
  • Reflective Closure. Conclude your autobiography with a reflective summary that offers insights into the broader significance of your journey.

Our essay writers know many more tips regarding all possible types of academic tasks. If you ever find yourself in writer’s block, not knowing how to tackle any particular assignment, let us know!

Final Words

If you want to understand how to write a good autobiography, think of it as painting a vivid picture of your life for others to see. It's about being real, digging deep into your memories, and choosing the moments that really matter. Let your personality shine through in your writing – be yourself because that's what makes your story unique. Weave in themes that tie everything together, and use storytelling techniques like dialogue and symbolism to make your narrative come alive. And as you reach the end, leave your readers with some food for thought – a reflection on the bigger lessons learned from your journey. If you ever need assistance with this or any other college assignment, use our research paper services without hesitation.

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Adam Jason

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

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How to Write an Autobiography (Fully Explained)

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on Published: November 20, 2021  - Last updated: July 31, 2023

Categories Writing , Storytelling

Sooner or later, many of us think we’d like to write an autobiography. Maybe we should even write our memoirs, but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.

The point is this: We’ve all these memories and associations, relationships, sometimes sharp, sometimes soft, but we have them in our mind, and we feel like we want to put them on paper.

We want to tell someone the story we experienced, and sometimes we don’t even understand why we want to tell that particular story, but we have a strong feeling that we want to do so. In this article, we’ll look at exactly how you can approach your autobiography writing.

Autobiography or Memoir

An autobiography is a whole thing – a life, usually told chronologically as a series of significant events. Sometimes with the help of a ghostwriter. You should only ever have to write one autobiography!

But to qualify for it, you must have either :

a) lived a life worth living

b) been infamous or famous

Maybe both!

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write a story about your life. Quite the contrary.

But the memoir form may be better suited for you.

Memoirs as a Slice of Life

A memoir is a much more artistic endeavor than an autobiography or biography. They’re less limited to dry facts and more concerned with the meaning of life – whether by examining a specific period or looking at a period of life through a thematic lens.

It’s about a story within one’s life, not the whole life story. A slice-of-life experience. An excellent memoir is much closer to creative nonfiction than an autobiography.

The great thing about memoirs is that you can use them for almost any purpose and make them whatever you want.

A memoir usually isn’t as long as an autobiography and is written from a different perspective.

Writing an autobiography is about your life from your perspective. That’s not always the case with memoirs. Here, the author focuses on

a) a particular period of life,

b) a particular kind of life, or

c) a particular event.

You can tell about a day in your life that was particularly memorable, which is another type of memoir.

You don’t have to tell the story chronologically, but if it helps put things in order, you can do that too.

Memoirs can also be more subjective than an autobiography. A memoir is usually the story of your life as you see it.

Themes in a Memoir or Autobiography

You can focus on crucial moments and look at a period or a topic you want to write about.

Topics can be anything from your relationship with your parents to overcoming fear. Family, religion, work, relationships, health, hobbies – whatever you prefer – are fair game for the memoirist’s pen.

Themes give meaning to life. That’s why they’re so important in an autobiography or memoir.

There are other forms you should keep in mind:

  • In a biography , someone else writes about someone.
  • An autobiographical essay is required of prospective college or college applicants, in which they focus on experiences and accomplishments that add weight to their application. It’s an opportunity for a student to demonstrate relevant qualifications and qualities for entry and the ability to construct a well-argued piece of writing that is looser in style than straight academic writing. You can think of it as a personal essay.

The Moving Parts

If you’re thinking about writing your autobiography, you should first be aware of the key elements that will ensure your autobiography stands out and engages readers.

Many factors play a role in this, and we’ll discuss them one by one.

Universal Message

At its core, autobiographical writing is a search for meaning and identity.

A good autobiography isn’t just about you and your experiences. Somewhere in your autobiography, there’s always a universal message that manifests itself in the story you tell.

In this sense, an autobiography isn’t simply a list of experiences you string together, although you can use a chronological structure. But that’s far from the whole story.

A great autobiography has all the elements of a fantastic novel or movie. In other words, it’s to engage the reader emotionally and keep them enthralled.

Otherwise, there’s no motivation to keep reading.

In filmmaking, a central theme is sometimes called a “controlling idea” – akin to a thesis statement, it’s the fulcrum around which the narrative revolves.

No one is interested in a string of events. The events must have meaning, and the music and rhythm of life should permeate your autobiography for it to jump off the page and truly engage the reader.

There’s nothing like a universal message told in the form of a story.

A Strong Story

An excellent autobiography is a story told with strength and nuance. That’s why it matters to be clear about the story you want to tell and the key events that the story embraces.

Granted, this story may not be apparent when writing your autobiography begins. The story may not be clear to you until late in the writing and editing.

You may not even understand the story you’re telling until you revise. That’s why it’s so important to be flexible in outlining, structuring, writing, and revising. In other words, in the overall organization of your autobiography, which we’ll discuss in more detail in this article.

We’ll look at specific methods to help you structure your autobiography and assemble the necessary pieces.

And we’ll show you how to combine those pieces to create an excellent autobiography.

But before we go any further, let’s look at key elements that make a good autobiography.

When discussing a particular moment in your life story, you should be concerned with the spirit of the times – the so-called Zeitgeist.

For example, if you’re talking about the 1960s, you want the flavor and feel of that time to be reflected on the page.

It can be allusions to the music of the time. It can be allusions to the cars or the way of shopping that existed back then. The things that were happening on the street.

They can have to do with the attitudes of the people around you that were important at the time and how they acted and thought.

This creates a picture in the reader’s eye of what was happening around you then. That essential things were happening to you, or you were doing important things.

There’s something mysterious about a good autobiography.

Not everything in life is unambiguous! Life is often very ambiguous, and readers appreciate honesty and humility. By its nature, personal experience is subjective.

Readers don’t want to read someone arrogant and know everything. The fact is that not everything in your own life is clear to yourself, let alone to others around you!

Therefore, it can be excellent to acknowledge this and either mention it directly in your writing or have moments in the story where you allow the mystery to exist because it does.

This sense of mystery lets the reader’s imagination run wild. It allows the reader to understand that life comprises a series of veils. In most cases, the reader will find himself relating parts of your story to his life story. He’ll feel addressed, and that’s what draws him in.

Life isn’t just about clear challenges and overcoming them. As compelling as such “hero stories” may be. There are profound mysteries in life that we all ponder occasionally and keep popping up.

That’s why I think this sense of mystery is very important.

Revelations and Story Beats

In addition to secrets, you should also have moments of revelation in your autobiography.

Moments when something suddenly becomes clear, or someone realizes something. Life lessons that change the trajectory of your life. Or the nature and meaning of a relationship become apparent, which drives you to a decision or action.

In that sense, the events in your autobiography are less about the external events and more about the internal events where you decide what to do at certain stages. Or you come to a judgment or conclusion about something that you’ll probably change later in your life.

The point is that these moments of change, the so-called swing points in your life – the “beats” in movie language – are very important because they mark turning points in the story of your life.

The Plot of Your Life

It’s constructive to think of your life as a movie plot. We’ll discuss this technique later in this article.

So your autobiography isn’t just a collection of the best and worst moments of your life, even if you desperately want the polarity of good and bad to make your story stand out.

Juxtaposition is a very important element. You want things to contrast because that helps build emotion. It helps build tension and drama in the story.

Tension is essential for reader engagement. You can think of it like a rubber band that you slowly twist. It gets tighter and tighter. The trick is to keep stretching it open, building it up more and more, and then relaxing it again. Tighten it up and then relax it again. Over and over again.

In other words, play with the tension in your life story, your autobiography.

Context Shifts

Another critical element in your autobiography is context shifts.

Sometimes these are changes of place. So you move, go to a different place, or arrive at a different place.

Sometimes they’re contextual shifts in terms of relationships with other people.

Sometimes it’s contextual shifts regarding your life purpose and how you define what’s important to you and what you want to accomplish.

But it’s helpful to be aware of these contextual shifts in your life and think about these seams as you write your autobiography.

Now let’s look at the key steps to writing your autobiography.

A Very Personal Journey

Run away if anyone tells you that there’s some standard template for writing an autobiography or memoir! Quick.

Writing and stories aren’t about squeezing experiences and memories into some template.

The author’s connection to the material is the most crucial thing in writing a good, meaningful work.

Writing is about how you see the world, understand your experiences, and want to share them with readers.

Writing is a personal journey that can be very different for everyone.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a memoir about how you worked your way up in your profession and discovered leadership and management skills or if you’re writing a memoir about your relationship with your mother.

Either is perfectly fine.

Tell the stories that burn inside you. Write about what it means to be alive, awake, aware, and a wonderful person. Make up a story that’s as personal as you see fit.

Memoirs help you do that. How you choose what to include and what not to include, what to focus on, and what to ignore is up to you.

A Thought for the Reader

Picture the scene. You have a few minutes in the bookstore, browsing the titles scattered on the table of featured books – or the digital equivalent online.

A cover catches your eye. Something intrigues you so much that you pick up the book.

What do you do?

You probably read the blurb on the back cover and then the first page or two. Often that’s enough to make you buy the book or quickly put it back on the pile.

Something in the blurb and the first few pages must appeal to you. Otherwise, you won’t get involved, and the book has left your universe forever!

So when thinking about, constructing, and writing your memoir or autobiography, be clear about your story’s appeal to other people, your future readers!

This doesn’t mean you should be cocky about your writing. On the contrary, an honest path through your story is almost always better. But it means you develop a sense of your reader’s attention!

Otherwise, you’re just writing for yourself. That’s fine, by the way – it can be an excellent way to soothe the soul.

But if you want other people to read your stuff, you need to think carefully about what in your story will grab attention and what is worth paying attention to in each scene!

The Two Treasure Chests

We all have two treasure chests regarding memories, stories, and, thus, memoir writing.

The first is the treasure chest of memories and reflections. These are in the treasure chest of your mind, and your job is to capture them on paper or the screen and eventually work them into a story.

The second treasure chest is physical and digital mementos. Photos, CDs, letters, diaries, old notebooks, clothes, souvenirs, and more. They serve as a tremendous stimulus for remembering and writing. Although you could collect them in one place before writing, that’s probably impractical. Therefore, a good solution is to have a photo mood board with everything you’ve accumulated over the years.

An easy way to do this is to use the built-in photo app on your computer. I use a Mac, so this is Photos for me. It’s easy to collect pictures in an album and resize them to see more or less of them as needed.

Then and Now Time

One of the questions people ask when writing a memoir is how to handle tenses.

I think it’s worth considering two different time frames: the “then time” and the “now time.” This means you put yourself in the moment of the remembered events but see them as you experienced them then. This way, you can vividly represent them and discover them in your text.

It’s not so much a matter of tense as it’s of perspective and setting.

The “now time” is the time of reflection: you look back on past events with the wisdom of hindsight.

As a rule, it’s a good idea to write the main narrative in the “then time” because otherwise, you risk your memoir becoming a boring flashback instead of a compelling journey for the reader.

Connect with Your Inner Child

One particular technique worth mentioning when writing about childhood experiences is the “connect with your inner child” meditation. I first learned about it at the beautiful Plum Village retreat in France.

A guided meditation takes you back to your childhood and creates a connection you can access. Incredibly powerful in life and writing.

Imagine seeing your younger self in a scene and later adding how your older, wiser self understood what you were experiencing, even if you didn’t know it then.

This technique of shifting perspective is highly effective in both memoirs and novels.

It’s worth trying the Plum Village app for IOS. It’s completely free and offers many great meditations.

Break Out of the Prison of Linear Narrative

Where should you start with your memoir?

And how do you start writing them?

Unless you’re dealing with a tight time frame and a compelling ongoing narrative, telling your story in a non-linear way will probably help a lot.

Remember, you’re selecting events, not trying to tell everything that happened.

Therefore, not only can you select periods – which don’t have to be worked through in strict order, especially if you’re writing out your memoir thematically – but you can powerfully use nonlinear writing for your entire process.

We don’t think linearly, so why write that way?

When I sit down to write, I focus on the task: the sentences, paragraphs, and pages in front of me. I don’t worry excessively about everything having to be perfect and fit at the time of writing. Everything is in its own time! During the editing and the second draft, I start moving the blocks around so they tell a story.

Using Scrivener to Structure Nonlinear Writing

The app that best helps this nonlinear writing process is Scrivener.

I’ve used it for many years, and how it handles index cards on its “corkboard” has saved me more time than I care to remember in finding structure in writing and filmmaking.

Another excellent app I can recommend is Aeon Timeline. The latest version, 3, has a narrative mode and several other perspectives that let you get a handle on chronology, eras, intersections of characters, and more.

The Truth in Autobiography

When you write your memoir, you write a piece of truth. Your truth. There’s no such thing as objective truth, certainly not in writing. Nor, for that matter, in filmmaking.

There’s only a subjective truth – the truth as you see it. The exciting thing is that your truth becomes someone else’s truth through a magical transformation process.

Your mother’s truth becomes your truth, your neighbor’s truth becomes your truth, and your lover’s truth becomes your truth.

That’s magic.

One of the reasons I recommend writing your memoir instead of an autobiography is that you can focus on a particular story, a particular moment in your life. If you do it right, you can present it in a way that speaks to others.

You write your memoir to express your truth in a way that communicates it clearly to your reader without misleading them.

This is because they’re based on facts and what happened (as best you can remember it). This is part of a primary, unwritten contract you make with future readers when writing your memoir or autobiography.

Find a Coherent Narrative

To tell your story clearly and understandably, you must find a coherent narrative that ties together the concepts you want to convey.

The narrative won’t be perfect; it’ll need to be revised because your story isn’t an objective fact; it’s your truth.

It’s the narrative that makes your story interesting to your readers. Readers like narratives!

Hopefully, you’ll write your story so that even if the reader doesn’t know what happened to you, they’ll know what you felt and thought.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s very liberating to understand that the shape and order of your narrative will emerge during the writing process – not something you’ve to decide before you even start putting words on the page.

A Structural Approach to Autobiography and Memoir

You don’t have to pressure yourself to figure out the structure of your narrative from the start. You don’t have to summarize ideas, memories, or themes in predefined chapters.

Chapters are the surest way into the writer’s prison.

As the wonderful writer Terry Pratchett put it:

Life doesn’t happen in chapters at least, not regular ones. Nor do movies. Homer didn’t write in chapters. I can see what their purpose is in children’s books (“I’ll read to the end of the chapter, and then you must go to sleep”) but I’m blessed if I know what function they serve in books for adults. Sir Terry Pratchett

Writing programs like Scrivener allow you to collect and spit the fragments out, knowing you can later group them into a form. That’s tremendously liberating. It’s how I’ve made films, how I write long texts, and how I write articles – including this article.

I’ve no idea how this article will turn out. But it’ll appear; you can bet on that. And I know it’ll be good because it comes from the heart. And it’s immediate. Not overthought.

When you write your memoir, you can do the same thing.

I start with many different ideas and notes, photos, and videos I’ve taken. I make sure I can find them easily. If I’ve everything in one place, it’s easier for me to get it out.

You’ve to let your mind become a sieve, a filter, a funnel into which you pour your experiences so they come out transformed.

You’ll have to go through everything several times. You’ll have to go through your story several times.

First, you write down everything you remember, everything you think is essential, and everything that feels like it belongs to your story.

Second, you shape this mass of material into something coherent.

Third, you edit the material.

Dreams and Meditations

Dreams and meditations are essential in all forms of writing, even in memoirs. The trick is to capture the fragment on paper or screen as quickly as possible before it flies away.

Let me give you an example:

I remember first hearing Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band .

I was walking down the hallway at school when I was about nine years old. Suddenly I heard this incredible sound from a record player (yes, I’m that old) turned up full blast in an adjoining room. There was no one in the room, just the music. Coming from a conservative family where pop music just wasn’t played at home, I think this was the first time I got a taste of a larger culture. Out there.

I was amazed.

Use Dictation to Write Your Memoir

Sometimes when I write, I think of a scene, close my eyes, and start dictating. It’s all the more convenient when I know that one of the many transcription apps will do the hard work for me afterward.

Recently, I recalled that my brother and I were up against the local giant nettle patch when I was about twelve years old. To us, they weren’t nettles – they were an army. Hours later, we were called up for tea – and I suffered from hay fever for years afterward !

This memory also reminded me of another day when, together with local boys, we found a barn with huge black garbage cans in it. The game was to hide in the garbage cans while others threw stones and tried to hit us. Inevitably, a rock hit me right between the eyes. I’d have lost an eye if it had been just an inch further away.

Rather than lose these memories to the chaff of the day, I immediately documented them with a voice recording on my iPhone. Safe in the knowledge that I could quickly transcribe and include them in my memoir later.

Allow yourself to dream, to remember, to record, to document. Don’t be guided by the thought that these recordings must have a particular form before they must.

One way to think about your memoir is to think of it as a series of vignettes – short, impressionistic scenes that focus on a moment or give a particular insight into a character, idea, or environment.

The word’s origin is worth knowing: it comes from Old French and means “little vine.” If you think about it, it’s a very nice analogy for what excellent memoir writing can do: a series of independent yet interconnected vines that together form a whole.

I don’t see a linear path when I think about my life this way. Things have happened randomly; I’ve been in one place and then another. Or in the same place in different periods.

I don’t see my life as a coherent, meaningful narrative. It’s more like a series of vignettes between which I can see connections, but not a continuous line.

Your vignette can be part fantasy, part dream; you can change the period, time of day, weather, season, lighting, or anything else you want.

If you include dialog, make sure it’s believable; if you include your (or other) participants’ thoughts, make sure they ring true.

If you’re worried about authenticity, pick a moment you can remember clearly.

For example,

As a child, I’m sitting on the floor in the kitchen of my house. I’m nine years old. The kitchen is very bright. I’m eating a sugared roll – one of my favorite foods. I’m thinking about my friend’s birthday party tomorrow, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m also thinking about getting my housework done today. It’s light in the kitchen.

The truth, of course, is that I’m thinking about all of this at the same time.

Later, I listen to the sound of rain falling on the roof of the conservatory. It’s a sound I’ve long loved. I watch the different shades of light coming in through the window. The light casts shadows. The light is bright. I think about the things I need to do today. I’ve some homework to do. I need to do the dishes. I need to clean up.

What might hold together seemingly random moments like the above is the growing quality of reflection and the pressure that life puts on the mind.

Use Prompts

When writing memoirs and autobiographies, many prompts can be handy.

We’ve already discussed the two treasure chests above.

But many beneficial questions can get your mind going and make deep memory connections.

Here are just a few examples:

  • What was my most treasured toy? Why was it important to me?
  • What do I remember about the kitchen growing up? What smells can I still remember today? What could I glimpse out the window?
  • What did I do that I regretted? What can’t I tell another soul about?
  • Driving with the family in the car. What’s happening right now? Where are we going?
  • When was the first time I was furious? What had happened?
  • When did I feel most betrayed in my life?
  • When did I fall in love for the first time? Out of love?

As you can imagine, there are many, many more.

The point isn’t to go on an endless memory hunt but to lift the veil of the unconscious to find the topic necessary for your memoir. And more often than not, a more resounding theme emerges. A deeper meaning to your life story that you want to put on paper.

That, after all, is the real art of memoir: distilling a lifetime’s experiences into a coherent, readable, and meaningful whole.

The prompts don’t have to be about the past – they can be about the present.

They can be about your life today – your current life and your relationship to it and the people around you. Then you can discover how profound forces and influences have shaped your reality.

Your Motivations

Ultimately, you’re the only person who knows your motivations for writing your memoir. There’s no need for you to explain to the public!

What do you hope to gain by writing your memoir?

A sense of closure? A sense of accomplishment? Redemption?

A chance to share the themes of your life story with others so they can learn from your journey?

An opportunity to see your story told so you can look back and reflect on the meaning of your life and the direction your life might take in the future.

Whatever the reason, the result should be more significant than a simple retelling of your life.

Perhaps it’s about creating a legacy, leaving something that will stay with you beyond your time, years, and life into the future.

When you write your memoir, you’re also writing your legacy. Or at least part of it.

That’s why it’s worth pausing for a moment.

Beware of the natural human instinct to right the wrongs done to us in the past. Seeking revenge will lead you down a dark path. Once it’s published, it’s published. And it’s hard to crawl back.

My advice would be to make your memoir a positive impulse.

We all make mistakes; why not reflect on them with awareness, acceptance, and understanding?

Awareness will lead us to change our pattern of behavior, acceptance will lead us to forgiveness, and understanding will show us how to forgive others.

Remember, forgive the person, but not the crime.

Writing your memoir can be a part of the healing process if you let it.

Scenes That Resonate

Actors know there are “scene objectives” in scenes – things the character wants and is trying to achieve.

This isn’t always true, but it’s often the case that the character either achieves their goal or doesn’t. There will be a clear resolution to the scene.

You can also look at your memoir in this way.

The goal of a particular scene is to get the character from one point in the story to the next in a way that makes sense to the reader.

How do you do that? Through the concept of scenes that “get there.” In a way, it’s similar to a joke that “lands” with its punchline.

These “landings” are ways to get from one scene to the next.

They’re places of transition where action and reflection mix, and you can move from one scene to the next. This is where you place the dissonance leading to your character’s next destination.

Remember that these transitions will become more apparent and more evident as you write and move into revision. You don’t have to have a set structure for your memoir. However, you need a series of vivid scenes, fast or slow sections, that deepen your narrative.

The Movie of Your Life

There’s a classic and well-understood dramatic arc that underlies almost all movies. I’m not suggesting that you apply it to how you write your autobiography or memoir, but it can benefit you as you reflect on the ebb and flow of your life.

We go through a series of “walls” in our lives. Ones that we break through after we find our way or ones that we somehow get around.

Overcoming the significant obstacles of life usually requires inner change and realization. When we overcome life’s walls, we learn an important lesson that we take into the next phase.

I found it very helpful to plot these walls on a timeline of my life. On the X-axis was my age, and on the Y-axis was the amount of hardship endured. That corresponds to the level of drama. This was a precious exercise because it helped me step back from the story of my life and look at it from the outside.

The way a reader might.

It helped me recognize the moments that involved real struggle, emotion, and conflict. In this way, it served as a map for my memoir.

So I took the significant events in my life – death, illness, divorce, early trouble spots, etc. – and drew them on the line where they took place, what age I was, and what was happening in my life at the time.

An interesting thing happened.

I thought I’d written about significant events before but never went into enough detail to immerse the reader in the pain, emotion, and drama.

Also, I hadn’t allowed myself to take ownership and responsibility for these events.

Subconsciously, I’d distanced myself from my own life. This isn’t to say that it was all my fault. But I was guilty of being too easy on myself.

As you can probably guess, this was an essential moment in my writing process.

What’re your walls? When did you overcome them? How did you overcome them?

Maybe you’ve decided you’re going to overcome them. Or maybe you’re still waiting to overcome them.

In any case, these moments of significant change are essential to the success of your autobiography.

Commit to Yourself

Writing memoirs or autobiographies is difficult. Even if no one but you may ever get to see them!

It requires deep inner work – a journey into the soul.

And it requires a serious commitment to writing continuously over a long period.

The former means accessing your unconscious, as I described earlier in this article.

The latter is a challenge that all writers face. The simple yet not-so-simple task of sitting down in your chair and writing every day. Your writing journey.

So before you start, make some commitments to yourself.

  • Commit to writing every day.
  • Commit to writing as many words as you estimate you’ll need to finish your book.
  • Commit not to cheat on your word count.
  • Do your best because you know your best is good enough.
  • Show up to your desk and your soul.

This is the hallmark of a professional writer. Which you may not be. But why not adopt the mindset and practices of one?

One thing: don’t rush.

A memoir or autobiography shouldn’t be written under time pressure. Give your writing time to breathe and your reflections time to go deep. You’re laying the groundwork for something great.

One of the hardest things to write about is your relationship with your parents.

I lost both of my parents, one of them recently. Even as time passes, it’s hard to look deep (as a writer must) in a way that inevitably evokes pain and grief in me.

But that pain must be endured if you’re to have access to what’s probably one of the most important influences on your psyche, whether you want to admit it or not.

As a writer, artist, and human being, you must deal with them honestly. And do so with as much compassion as possible.

In other words, you must go through the same process of soul-searching and profound inner discovery as you’d with any other complicated subject.

You must apply your understanding of life and its meaning to the subject. And you must write from a position of humility and compassion.

Brainstorming for Your Autobiography

I always think of “brainstorming” more as “thought development” – a quieter and more meditative approach to writing.

You call up ideas and play with them. Try them out. To see what develops. These ideas transform as you write, re-read, and sleep on them.

Then when you come back to your writing, you’ve new things to work with. Ideas that have been developing in the background.

This is a good way to gather ideas for your memoir. It’s a way to write without writing.

  • In one sentence, invent a sentence that says something about your life.
  • In a paragraph, invent a paragraph that says something about your life.
  • In a scene, invent a scene that says something about your life.
  • Write a memory that says something about your life.

Then ask yourself: What do you’ve to say?

  • What’s the most important thing you’ve to say?
  • What’s the most dramatic thing you’ve to say?
  • What’s the most impactful moment you can convey?

I use mind mapping extensively to “develop thoughts” – the best apps I’ve found for this are iThoughts and TheBrain. The beauty of TheBrain is that it allows for contextual thinking around a subtopic – something difficult to achieve with traditional radial mind maps.

You can also use free online tools like XMind, Coggle, or paper and a pen.

You’ll find that this way of thinking brings ideas to life in ways you mightn’t be able to if you only thought linearly.

Why not just write an essay about your life, drawing from the stream of consciousness? And then see what sticks.

Related: How to Focus on Writing an Essay

Write a Letter to Yourself

Another way to write your autobiography or memoir is to imagine you’re writing a letter to yourself.

A great letter is to tell yourself the story you want to write about yourself.

Or you can take on the role of mentor to yourself:

The “you,” in this case, is your current self.

  • Write a letter to your former self.
  • What advice would you give to your former self?
  • What guidance would you give?
  • What would you do differently?
  • How would your former self respond?
  • How would your current self respond?
  • How would your future self react?
  • How would your friends and family react?
  • How would your children react?

How to Outline Your Autobiography or Memoir

The most important thing you need to know about outlining as a writer is that it’s not a process that happens before you settle down to write, and it’s written down in a kind of gospel.

Quite the opposite.

The “how” (the outline) and the “what” (the writing) are intricately intertwined and bounce off each other.

Outlining Is a Dynamic Process

If you have a good idea of what you want to write about, you can put that idea into an outline.

There are many different ways to do this. Most involve writing a few key words, phrases, sentences, or even just a few key phrases that describe the main content of your book.

A book is usually a collection of chapters (but be sure to read my comments about the chapters above).

You can outline a chapter by writing a few key words, phrases, sentences, or even just a few key sentences to describe the main content of your chapter.

You can also outline a scene. Again, you write a few key words, phrases, sentences, or even just a few key phrases to describe the main content of your scene.

An outline aims to give you a “basic structure” to work with.

The more details you’ve, the better.

How to Approach Research in Your Autobiography or Memoir

Aside from the treasure troves described above, which are more for stimulation or inspiration than research, you’ll need to track down specific facts and connections at some point in your writing.

You can do most of this research on the Internet.

There are now so many excellent online resources for writers. These include accessible radio archives, video archives, music archives, image archives, document archives, government archives, etc.

The list is endless.

Of course, you can also use your local library.

If you’re using a Mac, DevonAgent, and DevonThink can help you organize your searches and cross-referencing. DevonAgent prevents you from having to open hundreds of browser tabs, and DevonThink uses a very clever “fuzzy logic” search to find relevant things in your document collection. Although academics love both apps, they’re invaluable to me as a writer.

Another great option for research and clippings is Roam Research (or its free competitor Obsidian). Think of them as digital scrapbooks where you can drop everything useful and find valuable and relevant parts later.

Or go with a paper notebook.

Most importantly, document your research, and don’t throw anything away.

Remember that you’ll be researching at all stages of the writing process, including during editing and fact-checking. Therefore, it can be constructive to work with multiple monitors so that you can do the research queries on one while you continue writing on the other.

It’s often helpful to write a chapter or scene first and do your research later. This helps you focus your research on what you need and not disappear down a rabbit hole from which little productive writing comes out!

It’s also important to realize that researching and writing your book are closely related. They’re all part of the same journey.

When you write, you generate new ideas and write down the book that will become the finished memoir or autobiography.

This is an interactive process.

The structure of your finished book will also influence how you write it and, therefore, how you research it.

Remember that oral research also plays an important role: If people, family members, eyewitnesses, etc., are still alive and willing, their memories and perspectives can be beneficial.

Writing First Drafts

The most important thing to say about first drafts is that you do them!

That means you sit down and start writing. Even if you don’t feel like it. When you start writing, your resistance is quickly overcome, and you get into a good state of mind.

The second thing I say about first drafts is that you shouldn’t edit them as you write. That’s why I recommend not thinking too much about chapters in the first draft stage – there will be plenty of opportunities later to organize your text and divide it into chapters.

Everything that hinders your writing your first draft must be gently pushed aside. That’s why sometimes it’s better to research after you’ve written a scene.

The third thing to say about first drafts is that they should be about anything and everything.

As a writer, you need to get out of your way and not be too critical with your word choice, sentence structure, or anything else.

This is because you can only find your voice if you write your way to it. That means you’re writing many things that aren’t the finished book.

The more you write, the more you learn about yourself and your writing voice.

You may not understand the subject of your memoir or autobiography until your first draft is finished. That’s perfectly fine. It’s desirable.

Remember that your first draft should probably be just for you. Beware of letting critics in too early, even if they’re constructive.

If someone else reads your writing or sees your first drafts, that person or those people will likely impact the creative writing process, which you don’t want at this stage.

So, if you have a writing group or writing partner, wait until you’ve completed at least two first drafts before sharing the text.

Related: Why Creative Process Matters

The Path From First to Second Draft

First, put some distance between you and your first draft. If you don’t give yourself a break, you’ll have difficulty identifying the “plot holes” where you need to get your narrative going.

It’s about giving shape to the story – a story that you may not understand until after your first draft.

Your second draft isn’t about tinkering with or polishing your first draft. It’s about completely rewriting the story and moving the pieces around in the overall structure to make it work.

This is where I find Scrivener very useful. Especially the index card mode in Corkboard. It allows me to move writing blocks around, sometimes almost intuitively (since cold logic rarely works well in creative endeavors), to find the flow of a piece.

When you move the blocks, having a clear timeline is helpful – either on paper or (my choice) in a program like Aeon Timeline. This timeline helps you anchor the chronological flow of events, so you’re freer to make thematic connections knowing that you can always insert a reference to where we’re in space and time.

There’s going to be some missing. That’s fine. Write it.

Do you notice anything unclear in your narrative? Clarify it. Explain it so that someone reading the story for the first time will understand.

Sometimes it’s a matter of contextualization: a “framing scene” before the action scene. It’s incredible how sometimes putting a later scene at the beginning of the work can help make everything clear and functional.

Wield a Scalpel

The last advice I want to give you is to approach your second draft with a scalpel in hand. Cut it down, and remove any fat you discover.

Creative work often (not always) benefits from being shorter. A more compact narrative moves essential points in the story closer together and effectively tightens the connective tissue between scenes.

Cut out scenes you don’t need, scenes that are too long, and scenes that are in the background and don’t move the story forward. The goal is to create a lean, mean storytelling machine that continuously moves the story forward.

This also means cutting limp sentences, unnecessary adjectives, and anything else that makes your text wordier than it needs to be.

Examples of Great Autobiographical Writing

Maya Angelou – a series of seven autobiographies, including the work that brought her international acclaim I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Vladimir Nabokov – covering his life until he arrived in America in 1940, Speak Memory is known for how it blends fiction with fact.

Helen Keller – written with the aid of a braille typewriter The Story of My Life was dedicated to Alexander Graham Bell, a lifelong friend and avid supporter of deaf and blind research.

Mark Twain – keen to tell stories to other human beings, rather than pen a dry account of his life, Twain arranged that most of his Autobiography remain unpublished for 100 years after he died in 1910. No doubt the amount of vitriol and sharp observation, even of friends in the work, was a significant factor in this decision! Interestingly, most of his autobiography was dictated to a secretary rather than written directly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an autobiography.

An autobiography is a self-written account of an individual’s life, often detailing personal experiences, emotions, and reflections.

What should be included in an autobiography?

An autobiography should include significant events, relationships, challenges, achievements, and personal growth experiences. It should also offer insights into the author’s personality, values, and motivations.

How should I begin my autobiography?

Begin your autobiography with an engaging introduction that captures the reader’s attention. You can start with a memorable moment, an important event, or a unique aspect of your life.

What is the appropriate writing style for an autobiography?

A: The writing style for an autobiography should be honest, engaging, and descriptive. It should capture your voice and personality, connecting readers with your experiences and emotions.

How do I organize my autobiography?

Organize your autobiography in chronological order or around specific themes. You can divide it into chapters, focusing on different stages of your life or significant aspects of your personality.

How do I maintain reader interest throughout my autobiography?

To maintain reader interest, use vivid descriptions, create engaging anecdotes, and vary the pace and tone of your writing. Share unique perspectives and include moments of self-reflection to keep the reader engaged.

How do I approach sensitive or controversial topics in my autobiography?

Approach sensitive or controversial topics with honesty and sensitivity. Be aware of the potential impact on others, and consider using discretion or pseudonyms to protect privacy.

What should I focus on when writing about my childhood?

Focus on significant moments, relationships, and experiences that shaped your personality, values, and beliefs. Describe the environment, culture, and people that influenced your early years.

How do I conclude my autobiography?

Conclude your autobiography by summarizing your experiences, reflecting on the lessons learned, and sharing your hopes for the future. Consider leaving the reader with a final thought or message that encapsulates the essence of your life story.

What should I consider before publishing my autobiography?

Before publishing your autobiography, edit and revise the manuscript, fact-check for accuracy, and seek feedback from trusted readers. Consider legal and ethical implications, and explore various publishing options, including traditional publishers, self-publishing, or digital platforms.

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Home » Blog » How to Write an Autobiography in 31 Steps

How to Write an Autobiography in 31 Steps

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

If you’re thinking about writing an autobiography, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will be telling you all about how to write an autobiography – breaking it down and helping you along with the process.

1. What is an Autobiography?

So you want to know how to write an autobiography? First off, let’s start with what an autobiography is. Put simply, a biography is a book written about someone’s life. It includes all elements of their life, particularly featuring any significant events that took place.

The word ‘autobiography’ is made up of the two Greek words ‘autos’ and ‘bios’, meaning self and life. Put them together and you get a book that is a mix of who you are, and the life you have lived.

2. Memoir vs. Autobiography

Before you start any kind of writing process, it is important to know what kind of a book it is you are wanting to write. There is no way to know how to write an autobiography if you can’t distinguish the two. Memoir and autobiography are often plumped into the same genre, because they are both about someone’s life.

But they are two genres of their own. So here’s the difference:

It’s pretty simple – if the book is about the person’s entire life – it’s an autobiography; if it’s about one or two events, themes or memories within their life, it’s a memoir .

Knowing the difference will save you time and energy. It will also help you to shape and plan your book (if that’s your style).

You can always change your mind and switch genres, but at least you will know what you are doing and how both of them work. Whichever you choose will change a lot about your book – particularly the content you choose to include and the structure of the entire piece.

Memoir is the perfect platform to share your personal life experience, and you don’t have to share every other significant moment of your life. (A wise decision if only one really interesting thing has happened to you during your lifetime.)

Writing an autobiography is much different. While they are both to do with the author’s life, biography is more to do with what happened throughout your life.

That means all significant events from birth ’till now.

If you set out to write a biography and it turns into a memoir, this is not a problem. The problem is when you don’t know what you’re doing at all. This leads to confusion in the writing process. And a lack of professionalism outside of it.

A great way to learn how to write an autobiography is to read. A lot. Reading other autobiographies will give you an idea of which direction to go in and how this genre is structured. It can also help you to develop your style and tone of voice, and to pinpoint which writing techniques you find most effective. All good tools to have in your writing toolbox.

Here are a few examples of autobiographies you might want to read:

  • My Autobiography, Charlie Chaplin (1964)
  • The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin
  • Long walk to freedom, Nelson Mandela
  • The story of my experiments with truth, Mahatma Gandhi
  • The story of my life, Helen Keller
  • The autobiography of Malcolm X, Alex Haley, Malcolm X
  • An Autobiography, Agatha Christie (1965))
  • The confessions of St. Augustine, Augustine of Hippo
  • Scar tissue, Anthony Kiedis, Larry Sloman
  • Open: An Autobiography, Andre Agassi
  • Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
  • Autobiography of a yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda

4. When to Write an Autobiography

how to write a critical autobiography

Cellini (1500-1571) wrote one of the finest autobiographies of the renaissance. He stated:

“No matter what sort he is, everyone who has to his credit what are or really seem great achievements, if he cares for truth and goodness, ought to write the story of his own life in his own hand; but no one should venture on such a splendid undertaking before he is over forty.” Cellini

Knowing how to write an autobiography can have a lot to do with your life experiences. This fact brings into question the age of the reader.

Many biographies are written later on in life, when experience has been gathered and there are many exciting moments to draw from. But this isn’t always the case.

If you are a younger writer and feel that your life has been sufficiently fantastic, or you feel a growing desire to get down all of the details of your childhood days, there is no rule that says you can’t. So don’t let others’ perceptions stop you.

Twenty-one-year-old Edouard Louis, for example, published a hugely successful fictional autobiography (aka an autofiction), The end of Eddy about his childhood and adolescence. So it is possible. Sorry Cellini.

That said, an older, more experienced writer may have an easier time writing an autobiography, simply because they have more material to draw from.

Like memoir, autobiographies tend to center around a theme, even though you are including many life events. That is because people tend to also be themed, in a way. Want to know how to start an autobiography? Thinking about theme can be a useful way in.

If you are a professional dancer, and that is the passion of your life, it makes sense that your book would also center around the theme of dancing and how you reached that success.

If you are ghostwriting for a celebrity, naturally they will be famous for something in particular.

The main theme, of course, is the person’s life. But that is not enough to sustain interest across time. So bear in mind a secondary theme that ties it all together.

If your theme or themes are relatable, then that will stand you in good stead. If you are not writing a glitzy celeb autobiography, then having a very relatable and original theme is more likely to find a readership than any other. Be careful not to choose and manufacture your theme, however. If you are meant to write an autobiography, you will likely already feel compelled to write about your life. So try not to put too much thought into it. Just keep it in mind, as it will keep you on track.

6. How to Pick a Theme

How to start an autobiography? One way is to pick a theme. And stick to it.

One way of picking a theme is to choose an aspect of your personality that you feel is awesome and make that your sole focus. Maybe you’re great at maths, for example. Perhaps you made it to the world championships on mathematics or something. That would be a story worth telling.

Another is to look at your philosophy in life and make that the focal point of your book. Showing your values throughout the book can inspire and uplift the reader as it can show a good example of a life well-lived. It also reveals quite clearly who you are as a person, without you having to explicitly spell it out.

A third would be to consider the things that are most important to you in your life and to make a reference to these as you work your way through each significant event mentioned in your book. (This works especially well if you are writing an autobiography for those who know you.)

7. Exceptions

You might also be wanting to know how to write an autobiography, because you want to share your story with your family. This is an admirable reason to write a story. It means that your family will always have a special connection to you through story, no matter what. It also means that generations to come will have that link to their own past and history.

From that sense, everybody should write one!

This kind of story can even be compiled as an oral history of your families’ history and lives, which makes for an extremely personal keepsake.

Autobiographies are sometimes written in short form, as essays for college assignments. This is a similar exercise to writing a full book , but in a condensed format.

Another form of autobiography is as an autofiction. This book is based mostly upon autobiographical content, but is also a work of fiction. This is an easy way of avoiding any concerns you might have about privacy. If you are wanting to distance yourself a little and take more control over the content, then this may be the way to go.

You can also consider other formats, such as writing an autobiographical graphic novel, which has the essence of cool written all over it. If you are an artist or have a passion for strong visuals, this is something to consider.

8. How to Plan

“Look for the times when your life changed the most, and when you changed the most, those are the times of peak drama in your life.” Janice Erlbaum, The Autobiographer’s Handbook

An excellent practice when learning how to start an autobiography, is to begin by writing out all of the significant events in your life. These could be anything; from graduating college, to losing your virginity, to being born. Whatever you think is most important and noteworthy, write it down.

You can later play with the order of events if you like, to shake things up a little bit,  but for now, just get anything and everything you can think of written down.

When considering how to write an autobiography, it seems to be the most natural of all genres to plan. This is because within it’s very construction there is a presumption of what it will be about: events in your life. From this sense, it is already set up for you. In some ways, this makes writing a lot easier. On the other hand, the risk that easy planning poses, is boredom. For the reader or yourself. The challenge then becomes, how to make these life events interesting and stand out. But we’ll get to that a bit later on…

Nb If you are a pantser (someone who likes to write by the seat of your pants) then you might want to skip this step. In all likelihood you have something in mind to write about, so just start there.

9. Writing Schedule

A schedule helps you to get things done. You will know what works best for you after trying a few things out. You could try planning out how much you are going to write by the hour (i.e. I will write for an hour a day, every weekday) or by word count (I will write 500 words a day). Be realistic and don’t overwhelm yourself. If you are too overambitious, you may find you end up not writing at all.

Otherwise, you could aim to write a certain section of the book per week or month if that works better for you. Because autobiography is so clearly and easily arranged into story beats (was born, had first pimple, dyed hair red etc.) organizing your writing by these events works for almost all writers, even if you are not a fan of planning.

Ask yourself the question, what’s the minimum I could manage on a regular basis? And be honest.

Everyone has their own writing style, including the way they schedule (or don’t schedule) their writing habits. So don’t ever let anyone tell you how you should be writing. It’s up to you.

10. How to Start an Autobiography

how to write a critical autobiography

Well, now you have a list of important events in your life, starting to write should be pretty straight forward. If you don’t like planning, it’s even simpler, just pinpoint a significant moment in time and get to work! If you have a plan, all you need to do is start writing out a first draft of each event.

Next up we have a few tips and tricks to get you started.

11. Go Digging

While figuring out how to write an autobiography, you will want to have everything you are writing as fresh and vivid in your mind as possible. This clarity will translate onto the page and give your readers a strong impression of each moment.

To do this, you will be wanting to dig out any old photos of you and whomever you might be writing about, and begin filing things away for each chapter or section of the book.

You also might find it beneficial to interview anyone who remembers what happened. This can bring a new light on old events. Try using a recorder or dictaphone and typing up the best bits once you’re done.

12. Fill Up Your Senses

A good way to get into the moment before a writing session is to surround yourself with the materials relating to that particular event. Look at photos or listen to recordings from around that time, and jot down any thoughts you might have about them.

You may also want to listen to some music from the time. If you have any old clothes or keepsakes from the person, you will also want them to be around or near as you write. Listen to any interviews about the time or the characters before writing.

13. Write a letter

If you’re struggling to start writing, you can try writing a letter to yourself or to other members of the family from the time. This is a very personal way of connecting with the past. Remembering your connection to your characters will help your writing to flow more easily and mean you have material to draw from before you even start writing.

14. Emotions

Writing about certain life events is likely to be emotional. Say you had a car crash when you were younger, or had to deal with some maltreatment of some kind, this will impact your writing, and how you feel about it.

It can be a difficult balance. You need to care enough about your subject matter to write it. But you don’t want your emotions to take over to the point where style and the content of your book suffers.

While feeling impassioned by your writing, it is also important to be able to step back and take a second look at your viewpoint. This may take several rewrites to get right.

If you are finding it difficult, then consider writing out as many different viewpoints of the event as you possibly can. This will open up how you see it and may even lead to an inspiring revelation for both you and your book.

15. New Insights

One of the benefits of learning how to write an autobiography, is that, as you develop as a writer, new insights will likely occur.

So while emotions can run high, it is good to know that writing about anything difficult that has happened in your life can help you psychologically.

Dr. James Pennebaker, a professor at Austin Texas university discovered that students who wrote for just fifteen minutes a day over three days about difficult or emotional experiences had a better level of wellbeing. He found that going through the process was upsetting for them, but it was the new insights the students discovered through the process of writing, that led to their improved levels of psychological health.

16. Take Care

As with memoir, if you feel that it is too much to write any subject matter, always take a break and come back to it (or not). Your mental health and general wellbeing are always more important than a book.

17. Know Your Why

Make sure that you don’t add in topics or incidents simply to vent about them. Instead, get all your feelings out about it during your first draft, and then start with a fresh perspective. If your writing is only about venting, it will not interest the reader. You may come across as petty or whiny.

Instead, you will want to make sure you can see the benefit of sharing your experiences with people. When you truly know how to write an autobiography, it should empower and enlighten people and help them connect to your story, rather than reading like an unfinished diary entry. It is perfectly acceptable for it to start out that way. But by the end of your writing process, you should be confident in the purpose of why you are writing your book, and what kind of impact it will have on its readers.

Knowing why you are writing will keep you on the right track, and help you like a compass in the storm, when you are lost.

18. Tone of Voice

An important aspect of telling your story will be your narrative style and tone of voice. This completely depends upon who you are writing for and the purpose of your book.

If you are writing for your grandchildren, for example, you may use more simplistic language. If you are writing for a broader audience, then you may use a more neutral tone. Writing for friends? You might want to use more familial or colloquial terms.

This also depends a lot on what kind of person you are, and you will want your attitude and personality to be reflected in your writing. This should happen naturally, but don’t be afraid to write as if you are talking or to use a recording device and write up your account of each chapter afterwards.

Pro tip: Relax. You won’t find your tone of voice by constantly thinking about how you might come across. Just write as you think and your natural expression will do the rest.

19. First or Third Person?

You can experiment with viewpoint as you go along, but once you have chosen, you will be wanting to stick with it. Third person gives us the feeling it has been written by someone else. So, if you are employing a ghostwriter or are working on a fictional work, then this is a good way to go.

First person is the generally accepted viewpoint for most autobiographies, because it is your story, and you are the one writing it.

20. Conflict

As you recall the people in your life, adding in any conflicts, even if they are comical, will add to the richness of the book. Conflict drives drama, intrigue and interest. And that’s what you want, if you want your book read, that is.

21. Story Arc

how to write a critical autobiography

One of the most critical components of how to write an autobiography is story arc. Like most genres of story, autobiography is no exception and will need some sort of an all-encompassing story arc. This is one of the main challenges you may face while writing this kind of book.

It simply can’t be a long list of events and then an ending. They have to all meld together cohesively in order to have some sort of an impact on your reader.

A story arc gives writers a structure, in which our main character aims to do something, and then either manages (or doesn’t) to achieve it. There are normally many obstacles in the protagonist’s way, and they must overcome them. Simply put, our main character must get from A to B. And you will need to decide at some point, what your start and end points in the story will be.

This ties into your overall message in the book. The great thing about autobiography is that it basically tells your reader who you are as a person.

You can start by making a note of your core beliefs and who you feel you are as a person before you begin. But don’t be surprised if, as you write, you reveal a value you hold that you had never especially acknowledged. This is a true gift to the reader, to leave them with your wisdom or knowledge.

Your philosophy can play a big role in the book, as it has likely led you to make certain decisions and can be featured and interlaced with certain events when your process of decision making was integral to the direction of your life.

22. Comedy and Funny Anecdotes

While you don’t want to overdo it on the comedy (unless it is a comedic autobiography, in which case, carry on!) a little comic relief can work wonders in this genre. It can lighten the mood and even make sad moments even more poignant. Funny stories specific to your family can add to the color of your characters, so they don’t fall flat .

23. Where to Begin ?

Think about when you might want to start your story. The logical point to start is from birth, but as your writing evolves over time, you may change your mind. You may want to add some perspective about your life from before you were even born. Your heritage may also be a large influence on who you are as a person today.

Once you have written a full first draft, you can consider changing around the order. Editing in this way can make for a more dynamic and varied read. If placed in the right way, you can even add in a plot twist or add to the suspense of your book.

24. Consider Your Reader

Don’t rest on your laurels. This can especially be a risk if you are writing only for friends or family. Just because someone knows you, it doesn’t mean your story will automatically become interesting to them. It will likely make it more interesting than if you were a random passerby, true. But this is not something to take for granted.

This point can be ignored during the first draft, but as you begin to develop your story, it becomes an implicit part of the process.

If you are wanting your book to sell, this becomes even more important as the reader’s interest and word of mouth can mean the difference between a book being put down or another sale.

25. How to Make Events More Colorful

Once you have written the thing, you will want to make sure that it is an interesting read. Even if you are writing just for friends and family, they will want to be excited by your life. And surely, that is why you are writing this in the first place?!

So a few tips to make sure that each story beat pops with color is to:

  • 1. Keep a notebook with you at all times for when you remember particular details about a person or place. Details will always give your story more originality and color.
  • 2. Show don’t tell – this is always relevant to any kind of writing and autobiography is no exception. Try adding in things you saw, smelt, tasted or touched within the scene. Avoid making a statement and describe what happened in the moment, instead.
  • 3. Add metaphor or simile- when describing a character or a vivid memory, don’t just describe how it looked on the surface. Unless this is not at all your writing style, you can enjoy emphasizing how something made you feel through descriptions that include metaphor. (use ext link for how to use metaphor) For example, ‘she was as fit as a fiddle’.
  • 4. Avoid common descriptive words – words such as ‘nice’ and ‘good’ should be considered with great caution once you have reached the third draft of your book.

26. Consider Your Reader

An important part of knowing how to write an autobiography, is having an awareness of the reader throughout the entire manuscript. This is not only a book for you. So don’t rest on your laurels.

This can especially be a risk if you are writing only for friends or family. Just because someone knows you, it doesn’t mean your story will automatically become interesting to them. It will likely make it more interesting than if you were a random passerby, true. But this is not something to take for granted.

Many new writers are tempted to leave in every detail of their life. But longer doesn’t always equal better – often it means that you simply haven’t cut out the parts that aren’t needed. So make sure you have your ego in check – don’t make your book too long just for the sake of it. Just because it’s interesting to you, does not mean every reader will want to know about it – family and friends included.

The average autobiography is around 75,000 words long. Much shorter than 60,000 and you might want to find other sources to write about, and any longer than 100,000, you might want to cut it down a bit.

28. Consider Privacy/Confidentiality

Much like memoir, autobiography includes characters who are real people. This means that some might be negatively affected by your work. So make sure to talk to those involved and to have an attorney at hand, just in case.

If you are unsure about leaving in their real name, it is best to give their character a pseudonym.

29. Editing

Both editing your book and getting it proofread will make or break it.

That means that you will want to find a professional editor to work with, who knows what she or he is doing. Ideally, you will want to find someone who is experienced in editing autobiography or memoir. Check that you have similar values and that you are both clear on what you are going to be working on, before you start.

30. Proofreading

Make sure that all your hard work shows. You can have a strong storyline and everything else in place, but if there’s a typo on the front cover, there is no way you will be taken seriously.

So, ask friends to check over your manuscript, or better yet, employ a few proofreaders to check it over for you. Don’t use the same editor to proofread, as they will find it more challenging to spot minute mistakes by the time they have reread the story more than once. A fresh pair of eyes will likely do a better job.

31. Autobiographies on the Shelf

The autobiographies in our bookshops today, you will notice, are mostly written by celebrities. This is because they often have interesting lives that we want to read about. They include incidents that we could never have access to otherwise, in our day to day lives.

And that’s what makes them so appealing.

Most people are not so interested in other’s lives, unless they have done something extraordinary. So if you’re thinking of writing something purely to try and get it sold, then you might want to rethink the genre you are writing in. We’re not saying it doesn’t happen that unknown authors sell a lot of autobiographies. It does. It’s just a lot less likely.

But don’t dismay, this is only a problem if that is the only reason you are writing your book. If it is because you feel impassioned to do so, then that is all the reason you need.

If it is for your friends and family to read, then you need not worry about big sales or landing a large publisher. It is so easy to self-publish these days on a relatively small budget, that you are pretty much guaranteed to achieve your aim.

If you are looking for a book deal, then you might be hard pushed, if you can’t say your life has an original element to it at all. If this is the case, consider writing a memoir , instead. There are many more memoirs written by ordinary people with extraordinary stories, than autobiographies. Because people love to hear about how ordinary people overcame the odds.

No matter what your reason, if you believe in your book enough to start writing the first page, then don’t let anyone stop you from writing the book inside of you.

So there you have it. Hopefully you will now feel confident about how to write an autobiography and ready to start. All it takes, is putting pen to paper.

Josh Fechter

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Home / Book Writing / How to Write an Autobiography and Publish it in 7 Easy Steps

How to Write an Autobiography and Publish it in 7 Easy Steps

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to be a famous figure to write an autobiography. In fact, if you want to write a novel or some other nonfiction book but just don't know where to start, an autobiography could be an ideal project to tackle. 

There are many different kinds of autobiographies from which to choose, so you don't have to keep a narrow focus or use a cookie-cutter mold for your book or autobiography essay. Read on as we tackle how to write an autobiography. 

  • Different kinds of autobiographies.
  • Steps to help you write your autobiography.
  • Tips to strengthen your storytelling skills while writing.

Table of contents

  • Autobiography vs Memoir
  • The Benefits of Writing an Autobiography
  • Before You Write, Read
  • Step 1: Decide on a Type and Scope
  • Step 2: Research and Outline
  • Step 3: Craft Your Story to Entertain
  • Step 4: Write Your First Draft
  • Step 5: Pause—Then Edit and Rewrite
  • Step 6: Get a Professional Editor
  • Step 7: Publish!
  • How to Write an Autobiography: Conclusion

The Many Types of Autobiographies

An autobiography in its broadest terms is a book about a person's entire life (or at least the interesting parts), written by that person . If you wanted to write a book about someone else's life, you'd be writing a biography . 

But within the autobiography genre, there are many other subgenres to choose from. These include:

  • Intellectual
  • Religious/Spiritual

An intellectual autobiography focuses on the author's life in terms of intellectual evolution and fulfillment. Often (but not always) written by people who have had a lot of schooling, the intellectual autobiography aims to analyze how certain experiences affected the author's life in terms of education, intelligence, and thought patterns. 

A religious or spiritual autobiography is one concerning the author's spiritual enlightenment. If you've found God (in any form) or have gravitated to a more spiritual life as you've aged, then this could be a good genre for you.  

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Thematic autobiographies are those that look upon a person's life story through the lens of a certain theme. This could be love, loss, perseverance, family, or even something like mental health, addiction, or mental illness. If you've noticed a theme in your life that has influenced your choices repeatedly, a thematic autobiography could be a good choice for you. 

A fictional autobiography is one that uses events from the author's real life while changing certain other elements freely. There are no hard-and-fast rules about what can and can't be real—or what percentage of each you must include. It could be that you use mostly real events but embellish them, change characters around, or make up certain exchanges. The most important part is that you don't claim it's a true autobiography when it's really a fictional one.  

It can be easy to confuse an autobiography and a memoir—which is in fact a type of autobiographical writing . The big difference is that autobiographies cover the author's whole life. Memoirs, on the other hand, focus on certain aspects of the author's life, usually in service of a theme.  

If you want to focus on your career or your childhood instead of covering your whole life, then a memoir could be a better fit for you. If so, you can check out our memoir writing prompts article . 

There are a ton of benefits to writing an autobiography. There's an old adage that goes “write what you know.” And there's no better genre to do just that! By diving into your personal story and examining life lessons and experiences, you don't have to worry about getting writer's block. You know the plot and the characters, which can help you get into a rhythm. 

This can not only give you confidence as a writer, but it can also make you a better writer as you go. A good autobiography is a lot like a novel in a lot of ways, so you use the same skills you would in a novel by painting a picture for your reader. 

But the benefits don't end with developing as a writer. It can also help you deal with traumatic events and process significant moments in your life. The goal, after all, isn't to dwell on any perceived wrongs or get back at anyone. The goal is to make sense of your personal experience by turning it into a story that readers will enjoy. 

Now that we've covered that introductory ground, let's get into how to write an autobiography, step by step. 

I would be remiss if I didn't say that you must first familiarize yourself with autobiography examples before you can write one. As such, here are some famous autobiographies to read so you can see how it's done. 

  • Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain
  • The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  • I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
  • Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
  • Agatha Christie: An Autobiography by Agatha Christie
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Complete Guide to Autobiography Writing

Writing an autobiography can be a rewarding endeavor, but it’s not easy. Even though it’s about your own life, it still requires research, time, effort, and some writing skill to get done. The steps below take you through the writing process, from choosing your focus to choosing your publishing avenue. 

While an autobiography covers the author's whole life, that doesn't mean that every single detail needs to go in. Even if you could remember what you had for breakfast on April 7th when you were ten years old, there would be no reason to include it unless some significant event happened at that time. 

So the first step in the writing process is deciding what type of autobiography it will be . This, in turn, will help you decide on the scope. If it will be an intellectual autobiography, you may want to spend time focusing on your early schooling and how that impacted your ability to learn or your love of knowledge. 

On the other hand, if you're writing an autobiography themed on marriage or romantic love, you probably won't have a lot of ground to cover during your childhood years. 

Pro Tip: Write a short personal statement about why you want to write an autobiography. There's no wrong answer, but putting your “why” into words can help you keep focused through the process. 

Once you have your scope in mind, you can start doing research and outlining in broad strokes the exact events you want to cover. This is when your idea starts to take shape in your mind and on the page. 

Researching will mean delving into your family history, busting out the yearbooks, and opening up the (physical or digital) photo albums. It will mean talking to parents, friends, siblings, and other family members. To get things right, it's important not to rely just on your fallible memory. Get multiple perspectives and sources on any important event you plan to cover.  

This is also a great time to get permission to use people's names in your book. Everyone you include in the story by name should give their permission. While this isn’t legally required, it’s a courtesy. However, it’s unlikely you will be sued for anything you say in a book unless it is blatantly slanderous.

Research is a time-consuming step in the process. But it's essential for forming your autobiography in your mind. You may even learn things about your family that you never knew before!

Just write everything down (or record it) so you can reference what people have said later. Using all your research, start crafting an autobiography outline in a Word document or on paper. 

Pro Tip: If you're not sure you have enough to say to fill a book, you can write an autobiographical essay first. If you still feel like you have a lot to say after writing an essay of a few thousand words, then you may have a book's worth inside your head!

Since you don't have to include every single detail in your memoir, you get to prioritize certain things over others. And while most autobiographies move in chronological order, it doesn't preclude you from using a hook to engage your readers. 

Perhaps you want to open your autobiography with a single event that changed your life . If this means jumping forward in time in your autobiography introduction to hook the reader before jumping back to your childhood, then that's perfectly fine. 

The point is, your autobiography needs to entertain the reader. And to do this, you can craft it like a novel. The one thing your book shouldn't be is full of dry, academic writing.

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You're the protagonist of the autobiography. And being a human, you're flawed. Make this clear to the reader while also giving them a reason to like you and root for you early in the book. Unless you're writing a fictional autobiography, this needs to be a true anecdote. But it shouldn't be hard to find. 

Think about all the other people in your story as characters . Each family member is there as a supporting role to you, the protagonist. Like you, they need to be interesting, if not always likable. It also helps to include conflict early on. Most people experience plenty of conflict in their lives, so this isn't usually hard.

When you think about your autobiography in this way, you can then refine your outline – or write a whole new one—with this in mind.

And once you're confident that you have the structure you want, it's time to start writing!

Since you're writing about your own experiences, you'll probably want to stick to the first person point of view . This is the most common autobiography format—even for those written with the help of a ghostwriter. For many authors, this comes naturally because it's how we tell stories to each other. 

That said, writing “I” over and over again can get a little old. This is normal. Just take it as an opportunity to vary your sentences instead of starting every one of them with “I.”

The writing process is different for every author, but it's important that you commit to a certain word goal per day or week . Make this goal attainable and stick to it. If you go weeks or months without getting words down, you'll just have to work harder to get back into the rhythm of autobiography writing. 

That said, give yourself room to make mistakes during the first draft. When you accept that your first draft won’t be perfect and only focus on getting the words down, things get a lot easier. You can always go back and edit later. But you won’t have anything to edit if you don't write!

When you're done with your first draft, let it sit for a couple of weeks or a month. This will allow you to get some distance from the words, which can help you look at them with a critical eye when it comes time to work on your subsequent drafts. 

Some authors even do this after each consecutive draft. But many find that it's most beneficial after the first one. 

Whether you wait a week or a month or more is up to you. But you can certainly find a sweet spot that works best for your writing schedule. 

Recording your life story is no easy task. And you will, by definition, be close to it. So this distance is imperative to achieve a dispassionate look at it. From there, you can make changes and re-work it until you think it's ready for another pair of eyes. 

Once you've made your autobiography as good as you can make it, it's time to seek help. While you can certainly give a copy of the book to some friends and family to see what they think, keep in mind they're likely biased. Chances are they're also not professional editors, either. 

This is why it's always a good idea to hire an editor —preferably one who's familiar with autobiographies. Of course, there are many different kinds of editors. And taking a critical look at your book in step 5 is important for choosing the right kind. 

If you think there are some structural issues with the book, you may want to hire a developmental editor. If you want someone to find typos and grammar issues, then a line editor may be best. 

For more information, check out our article on different kinds of editing . 

No matter what kind you go with, getting the feedback of an unbiased professional can do wonders for your autobiography . 

Even if you're not looking to make millions with your autobiography, publishing can still be a lot of fun. While it's hard to get a book deal for an autobiography unless you're already a celebrity, self-publishing is always an option. 

With a formatted manuscript and a professional cover, you can have your book up on Amazon and other online retailers in short order. You can even order author copies of your paperback to give to friends and family. 

To learn more about this process, check out our self-publishing hub .  

Whether you want to sell your autobiography to a wide audience or simply have it around for future generations of your family to read, writing about your life experience is a worthwhile endeavor. It can help you become a better writer while reflecting on your life and the lessons learned. 

To cover your life story in a compelling manner means leaving some things out and focusing more on others. Pivotal moments in your life should be the “plot points” of your autobiography. Striving to meet some goal should create a through-line for the reader. And the setbacks on your way to that goal can create the conflict needed to keep things interesting. 

Of course, all this should be true—unless you're writing a fictional autobiography!

Dave Chesson

When I’m not sipping tea with princesses or lightsaber dueling with little Jedi, I’m a book marketing nut. Having consulted multiple publishing companies and NYT best-selling authors, I created Kindlepreneur to help authors sell more books. I’ve even been called “The Kindlepreneur” by Amazon publicly, and I’m here to help you with your author journey.

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Literacy Ideas

How to write an Autobiography

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A Complete Guide to Writing an Autobiography

A quick scan of the bestseller lists will quickly reveal that we are obsessed with the lives of other people.

Books by and about actors, politicians, and sports stars regularly top the charts as we seek to catch a glimpse into the lives of remarkable people.

While many of these books are written by professional writers after meticulous research ( biographies ), just as many are written by the person themselves (autobiographies) – albeit often with a ghostwriter’s help.

Today we are going to show you how to write an autobiography that tells a great life story.

Visual Writing

WHAT IS AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY?

how to write an autobiography | DO you have an amazing tale to share 1 | How to write an Autobiography | literacyideas.com

Autobiography is a subcategory of the biography genre and, strictly speaking, it’s a life story written by the subject themselves.

Autobiographies are sometimes confused with memoirs and it’s no surprise as the two share many features in common. For example, both are written in the first person and contain details of the subject’s life.

However, some clear distinctions can be made between the two.

For example, a memoir usually explores a specific period of a person’s life, whereas an autobiography tends to make an account of the person’s life from their earliest years right up to the time of writing.

Autobiographies aren’t just the preserve of the celebrities among us though, each of our lives is a story in and of itself. Whether or not it’s a good story will depend largely on the telling, which is what this article is all about.

A COMPLETE UNIT ON TEACHING BIOGRAPHIES

how to write an autobiography | biography and autobiography writing unit 1 | How to write an Autobiography | literacyideas.com

Teach your students to write AMAZING BIOGRAPHIES & AUTOBIOGRAPHIES using proven RESEARCH SKILLS and WRITING STRATEGIES .

  • Understand the purpose of both forms of biography.
  • Explore the language and perspective of both.
  • Prompts and Challenges to engage students in writing a biography.
  • Dedicated lessons for both forms of biography.
  • Biographical Projects can expand students’ understanding of reading and writing a biography.
  • A COMPLETE 82-PAGE UNIT – NO PREPARATION REQUIRED.

  WHAT ARE THE MAIN FEATURES OF AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY?

Once students have a good grasp of what an autobiography is, we need to ensure they are familiar with the main features of the genre before they begin writing.

Let’s take a look at some of the main technical elements of an autobiography:

Purpose of an Autobiography:

To give an account of the person’s life so far

Tense: Mostly written in the past tense, but usually ends in the present tense and sometimes shifts into the future tense at the very end.

how to write an autobiography | memoir vs autobiography 768x1920 1 | How to write an Autobiography | literacyideas.com

Structure of an Autobiography:

●     Usually written in chronological order

●     Uses time connectives such as before, then, after that, finally, etc

●     Uses the names of real people and events

●     Is specific about times, dates, places, etc

●     Includes personal memories and specific details and descriptions

●     Reflects on how positive and negative experiences shaped the author

●     Gives an insight into the thoughts, feelings, and hopes of the author

●     May include some relevant photographs

●     Usually ends with a commentary on life, reflections on significant large events, and hopes and plans for the future.

When teaching these specific features, you may wish to compile a checklist with the students that they can subsequently use to assist them when writing their autobiography.

PRACTICAL ACTIVITY:

One great way to help your students to internalize the main features of the genre is to encourage them to read lots of autobiographies. Instruct the students to be conscious of the different features discussed above and to identify them in the autobiography as they read.

If you have compiled a checklist together, students can check off the features they come across as they read.

When they have finished reading, students should consider which features were well done in the book and which were missing or had room for improvement.

TIPS FOR WRITING A GREAT AUTOBIOGRAPHY

As we know, there is more to a genre of writing than just ticking off the main features from a checklist.

To write well takes time and practice, as well as familiarity with the features of the genre. Each genre of writing makes different demands on our skills as a writer and autobiography are no different.

Below, we will look at a step-by-step process for how students can best approach the task of writing their autobiography, along with some helpful hints and tips to polish things up.

Let’s get started!

 HOW TO START AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY WRITING TIPS:

Tip #1: brainstorm your autobiography.

The structure of an autobiography is somewhat obvious; it starts at the beginning of the subject’s life, works its way through the middle, and ends in the present day.

However, there’s a lot in a life. Some of it will be fascinating from a reader’s point of view and some of it not so much. Students will need to select which events, anecdotes, and incidents to include and which to leave out.

Before they begin this selection process in earnest, they need to dump out the possibilities onto the page through the process of brainstorming. Students should write down any ideas and sketches of memories that might be suitable onto the page.

While they needn’t write trivial memories that they know definitely won’t make the cut, they should not set the bar so high that they induce writer’s block.

They can remove the least interesting episodes when making the final selection later in the writing process. The main thing at this stage is the generation and accumulation of ideas.

how to write an autobiography | autobiography writing skills 1 | How to write an Autobiography | literacyideas.com

TIP #2: CREATE AN OUTLINE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY

After students have selected the most compelling episodes from their brainstorming session, they’ll need to organize them into the form of an outline.

One good way to do this is to lay them out chronologically on a simple timeline. Looking at the episodes in such a visual way can help the students to construct a narrative that leads from the student’s earliest childhood right through to the present day.

Students need to note that an autobiography isn’t just the relating of a series of life events in chronological order. They’ll need to identify themes that link the events in their autobiography together.

Themes are the threads that we weave between the cause and effect of events to bring shape and meaning to a life. They touch on the motivation behind the actions the author takes and fuel the development growth of the person.

Some themes that might be identified in an outline for an autobiography might include:

●     Overcoming adversity

●     Adjusting to a new life

●     Dealing with loss

●     The importance of friendship

●     The futility of revenge

●     The redemptive power of forgiveness.

These themes are the big ideas of a person’s life story. They represent how the events shape the person who is now sitting writing their story. For students to gain these insights will require the necessary time and space for some reflection.

For this reason, autobiography writing works well as a project undertaken over a longer period such as several weeks.

TIP #3: DO THE BACKGROUND RESEARCH ON YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Even though no one knows more about the topic of an autobiography than the author, research is still a necessary part of the writing process for autobiographies.

Using the outline they have created, students will need to flesh out some of the details of key events by speaking to others, especially when writing about their earliest experiences.

The most obvious resources will be parents and other family members who were privy to the joys of babyhood and their earliest childhood.

However, friends and ex-teachers make excellent sources of information too. They will enable the student to get a different perspective on something they remember, helping to create a more rounded view of past events.

For older and more advanced students, they may even wish to do some research regarding historical and cultural happenings in the wider society during the period they’re writing about. This will help to give depth and poignancy to their writing as they move up and down the ladder of abstraction from the personal to the universal and back again.

When students make the effort to draw parallels between their personal experiences and the world around them, they help to bridge the gap between author and reader creating a more intimate connection that enhances the experience for the reader.

TIP #4: FIND YOUR VOICE

Students need to be clear that autobiography is not mere personal history written dispassionately and subjectively.

For their autobiography to work, they’ll need to inject something of themselves into their writing. Readers of autobiography especially are interested in getting to know the inner workings of the writer.

There is a danger, however. Given that autobiographers are so close to their material, they must be careful not to allow their writing to denigrate into a sentimental vomit. To counter this danger, the student author needs to find a little perspective on their experiences, and following the previous tip regarding research will help greatly here.

A more daunting obstacle for the student can lie in the difficulties they face when trying to find their voice in their writing. This isn’t easy. It takes time and it takes lots of writing practice.

However, there are some simple, helpful strategies students can use to help them discover their authentic voice in their writing quickly.

1. Write to a close friend or family member

All writing is written to be read – with the possible exception of journals and diaries. The problem is that if the student is too conscious of the reader, they can find themselves playing to the audience and getting away from what it is they’re trying to express. Showboating can replace the honesty that is such a necessary part of good writing.

A useful trick to help students overcome this hurdle is to tell them to imagine they are writing their autobiography to an intimate friend or family member. Someone who makes them feel comfortable in their skin when they are around. Students should write like they’re writing to that person to who they can confide their deepest secrets. This will give their writing an honest and intimate tone that is very engaging for the reader.

2. Read the writing out loud

It’s no accident that we talk about the writer’s ‘voice’. We recognize the actual voice of people we know from its many qualities, from its timbre, tone, pacing, accent, word choice, etc. Writing is much the same in this regard.

One great way to help students detect whether their writing captures their authentic voice is to have them read it out loud, or listen to a recording of their work read out loud.

While we don’t necessarily write exactly as we speak – we have more time to craft what we say – we will still be able to recognize whether or not the writing sounds like us, or whether it’s filled with affectation.

As the student listens to their own words, encourage them to ask the following questions:

●     Does this sound like me?

●     Do the words sound natural in my voice?

●     Do I believe in the events related and how they were related?

Finding their real voice in their writing will help students imbue their writing with honesty and personality that readers love.

TIP #5: DRAFT, REDRAFT AND REFINE YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY

how to write an autobiography | Proofreading and editing1 | How to write an Autobiography | literacyideas.com

In the first draft, the brushstrokes will be large and broad, sweeping through the key events. The main notes of the tune will be there but with sometimes too much ornamentation and, at other times, not enough. This is why redrafting is an essential part of the writing process.

Students should understand that every piece of writing needs redrafting, editing , and proofreading to be at its best. There are no masterpieces full-borne into the world in a single draft.

For many, the tightening-up of a piece will involve the merciless cutting out of dead words. But, for some, the redrafting and refining process will demand the adding of more description and detail.

For most, however, it’ll be a little from column A and a little from column B.

Often, it’s difficult for students to get the necessary perspective on their work to be able to spot structural, grammar , punctuation, and spelling errors. In these instances, it can be best to enrol the eyes of a friend or family member in the role of editor or critic.

One effective way of doing this in class is to organize the students into pairs of editing buddies who edit each other’s work in a reciprocal arrangement.

These ‘edit swaps’ can be continued through to the proofreading stage and the final, polished piece.

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A Final Thought

Employing the 5 tips above will go a long way to ensuring a well-written and engaging autobiography.

While autobiography is a nonfiction genre, it is clear that with its emphasis on narrative, it has much in common with other fictional genres. So, it’s important when teaching autobiography that students learn to recognize the important role of storytelling in this genre too.

As with all good story-telling, there are some necessary elements to include, including a plot of sorts, a cast of characters, and an exploration of some central themes. For this reason, teaching autobiography often works well after the students have completed a unit on fictional story writing.

When all is said and done, the best way a student can ensure their autobiography is worth a read is to ensure they find the story within their own life.

After all, we’re obsessed with the lives of other people.

how to write an autobiography | how write an autobiography | How to write an Autobiography | literacyideas.com

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How to Write an Autobiography: 11 Simple Steps

  • February 18, 2024

Table of Contents:

What is an autobiography, how to write an autobiography.

  • 1- Outline Your Life's Timeline

2- Identify the Theme

3- gather memories, 4- be honest and reflective, 5- include influential people, 6- describe settings vividly, 7- express emotions, 8- edit and revise, 9- seek feedback, 10- incorporate visuals, 11- finalize your manuscript, 6 essential elements of autobiography, 4 examples of autobiography.

  • Example 1: "Long Walk to Freedom" by Nelson Mandela
  • Example 2: "The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank
  • Example 3: "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou
  • Example 4: "Dreams from My Father" by Barack Obama

Conclusion:

Autobiography.

Autobiography writing is when someone pens down their life story. It’s like creating a personal diary, but for everyone to read. In autobiography writing, the autobiography writers share their unique experiences and intimate memories. This type of writing allows the reader to see the author’s life and mind directly. It’s different from a biography, where another person tells your story. In an autobiography, it’s the person sharing their journey. It offers a special chance to step into their shoes and see the world from their eyes.

Find Your Focus: Beginning to write an autobiography starts with finding what to focus on. Reflect on the parts of your life that mean the most to you. Maybe it’s about your childhood days, the peaks of your career, or how you’ve grown personally. This focus acts like a compass for your writing. It makes sure your autobiography centers on the stories you find most vital. Think of it as choosing the key chapters of your life’s book you want everyone to read.

1- Outline Your Life’s Timeline

Creating a timeline is essential in writing an autobiography, akin to mapping your life’s journey. Begin from the outset, noting significant events in sequence, from birth to school days, influential people, career milestones, and more. This structured timeline serves as a guide, streamlining your narrative for clarity and coherence. It facilitates readers’ understanding, allowing them to accompany you through your life’s story. Whether documenting personal memories or delving into presidential biographies , a well-crafted timeline illuminates the path from your past to present.

Figuring out the theme is a crucial part of writing an autobiography. It’s like finding the heart of your story. What’s the big message or the most important lesson from your life? Maybe it’s about how you overcame tough times, the value of your family, or chasing your dreams. This theme adds more depth to your autobiography. It ties your various experiences together into a story that makes sense. A well-chosen theme can transform a simple list of life events into a powerful narrative that truly speaks to others.

As you embark on the journey of writing your autobiography, gathering memories is crucial. Start by collecting old photos, letters, and keepsakes reminiscent of different times. These items, akin to keys, unlock memories, aiding in recalling forgotten details and emotions. They weave together to narrate your life’s story, infusing authenticity and depth into your writing. Incorporating such pieces from your past can serve as a profound source of inspiration, alongside exploring memorable memoir examples .

Being honest and reflective is crucial when you write an autobiography. It’s not just about listing what happened in your life. You also need to think deeply about what these experiences mean to you. Being honest makes your story believable and trustworthy. At the same time, looking back thoughtfully lets you share the important lessons and understanding you’ve gained. This mix of honesty and reflection turns your autobiography into more than just a timeline of events. It becomes a deep dive into the essence of your life’s journey.

In every life story, including when you write an autobiography, key figures leave a lasting impact. It’s important to acknowledge these individuals in your writing. They could be family members, friends, mentors, or even challengers who have shaped who you are. Discuss how these people have influenced your choices, beliefs, and personal growth. Including them in your autobiography adds depth, showing how our lives are often interwoven with others, shaping us thoughtfully.

Bringing the places of your life to life is a crucial aspect when you write an autobiography. Vividly describe the settings where significant events of your life unfolded. It could be the house where you grew up, a school that was a big part of your life, or a city that left an indelible impression on you. Use your words to paint these places so that readers can see them in their minds. This level of detail makes your story more engaging and helps readers feel more connected to your journey.

As you get on the journey to write an autobiography, being open about your emotions is key. Share your feelings during the big moments of your life, whether they were filled with joyous challenges or were transformational in some way. Your emotional honesty brings another dimension to your story, making it more gripping and easier for readers to relate to. Let your readers experience your happiness, struggles, excitement, or fears. Emotions are a universal language, and sharing yours adds richness and depth to your story.

Once you’ve written your story, the next vital step in your journey to write an autobiography is editing and revising. Take a critical look at your work, focusing on clarity and impact. Simplify complex sentences, making your language easy to grasp. Ensure your storytelling is consistent and flows smoothly. Editing isn’t just about fixing grammar; it’s about fine-tuning your narrative and capturing the essence of your experiences in the most compelling way possible.

As you walk the path of writing an autobiography, seeking feedback is incredibly beneficial. Share your drafts with people you trust, those who grasp the essence of your story. This could be family members, close friends, or a writing group. Pay attention to their constructive criticism. Their insights may provide fresh perspectives or reveal areas needing improvement. Remember that feedback is invaluable for refining your story, making it more engaging and authentic.

An excellent way to enrich your autobiography is by adding visuals. Include photographs, documents, or any relevant imagery that can add a personal touch to your narrative. These visuals serve as tangible evidence of your experiences, helping to illustrate your story. They allow readers to visually connect with the people and places you describe, making your account more relatable and vivid. When you write an autobiography, remember that pictures can convey volumes.

The final step in your journey to write an autobiography is to finalize your manuscript. Review your entire story, ensuring it flows well from start to finish. Pay special attention to your conclusion – it should be strong and reflective, leaving a lasting impression on your readers. It’s your chance to summarize your life’s lessons and experiences, offering wisdom or insights from your journey. A well-crafted conclusion ties your story together beautifully.

By following these steps, one can effectively make an autobiography that is both engaging and meaningful. Along with these tips, you can also look towards biography writing services if you need help throughout your writing journey.

Honesty: When you set out to write an autobiography, being honest is key. Share your true story, the good and the bad. This honesty helps readers believe and connect with your journey, making it more real and relatable.

Detail is vital when you write an autobiography. Describe your experiences and events vividly. This brings your story to life, making it colorful and engaging for those who read it.

A clear order of events is important when you write an autobiography. It helps readers follow your story easily, understanding how your past shaped who you are today. A logical flow makes your story clearer and easy to follow.

Your autobiography should have a central theme. This is the main message or lesson from your life. A strong theme ties your experiences together, making your story more meaningful and impactful for your readers.

Sharing your feelings is essential when you write an autobiography. It lets readers connect with you on a deeper level. Your emotions make your story more powerful and touching, drawing readers into your world.

Reflecting on your experiences is a key part of an autobiography. It shows how you’ve grown and what you’ve learned. This reflection adds depth to your story, offering valuable insights and lessons to your readers.

“The Story of My Experiments with Truth” by Mahatma Gandhi: Gandhi’s autobiography isn’t just a history. It’s a journey into his beliefs and actions. Gandhi shares insights into his life’s pivotal moments, starting with his childhood. He talks about his philosophy of nonviolence and truth. This book gives us a unique look into how Gandhi thought and lived.

Example 1: “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela

This is the story of Nelson Mandela, a man who changed the world. Mandela grew up in a small village. He later became a symbol of peace, spending 27 years in prison. His fight against apartheid in South Africa shows us the power of resilience and hope.

Example 2: “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank

Anne Frank’s diary is a heart-rending account of World War II. She wrote it while hiding from the Nazis. Her words bring to life her fears and dreams. This diary is more than history. It’s a powerful reminder of courage in the face of danger.

Example 3: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s story is about overcoming. She faced racism and personal hardships in her early years. Her book tells how she found her voice against all odds. Angelou’s rich and expressive writing makes her experiences come alive. It’s an inspiring tale of empowerment.

Example 4: “Dreams from My Father” by Barack Obama

Before becoming president, Barack Obama wrote about his life. He talks about his diverse background and finding his identity. The book covers his early work and initial steps into politics. It offers a glimpse into the experiences that shaped his leadership. Obama’s story is about growth and understanding.

The journey to write an autobiography is not just about recording events; it’s about sharing the essence of your life story with the world. It’s a process of self-examination, discovery, and creation. Remember, your story is unique; only you can tell it with the depth and authenticity it deserves. Whether you write a biography or an autobiography, the key is to stay true to your experiences and the lessons they have taught you.

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how-to-write-an-autobiography

How to Write an Autobiography in 3 Steps

Writing autobiographies is not an easy task.

Not only do authors need to recall all memories and decide on milestones to include, but they also spend time and energy organizing and structuring all the material into a  narrative .

In this article, we’ll guide you through the nature of this type of writing, the process of how to write an autobiography, and practical tips on how to write an autobiography essay if assigned this paper type in college.

how-to-write-an-autobiography

Table of Contents:

  • What is an autobiography?
  • What about an autobiography essay?
  • Key elements to include in your autobiography
  • Choose a core idea
  • Write an autobiography essay
  • Practical tips on writing autobiography
  • Mistakes to avoid when writing autobiography
  • Further reading

What Is an Autobiography?

Authors write autobiographies in tales, novels, diaries, or stories closely mirroring events of their real lives. This genre is about describing personal experience or self-discovery.

  • Long Walk to Freedom , by Nelson Mandela
  • A Moveable Feast , by Ernest Hemingway
  • Dreams from My Father , by Barack Obama
  • I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban , by Malala Yousafzai
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin , by Benjamin Franklin

In writing autobiography, authors attempt to leave a legacy for their descendants, bridging the gap between people of different ages, backgrounds, and generations by sharing their wins, losses, and lessons learned. With an essay maker , authors can create stories that will both inspire and motivate readers.

The structure of a classic autobiography is complex yet straightforward:

It’s written in chronological order and is specific about dates, times, places, real people, and events. Autobiographies include personal memories and details, reflecting on how those positive or negative experiences shaped the author and giving insights into their thoughts, feelings, and hopes.

Biography vs. Autobiography vs. Memoir

autobiography-biography-memoir

An autobiography = you tell about your life; a biography = you tell about somebody else’s life.

Examples of biographies:

  • A Beautiful Mind,  by Sylvia Nasar (about mathematician John Nash)
  • Mao: The Unknown Story,  by Jung Chang
  • The Minds of Billy Milligan ,  by Daniel Keyes
  • Churchill: A Life,  by Martin Gilbert
  • Steve Jobs,  by Walter Isaacson

A memoir is super close to an autobiography format, but these two aren’t identical. While autobiographies typically describe authors’ entire lives, memoirs document a selected period of their life journeys.

Examples of memoirs:

  • The Diary of a Young Girl , by Anne Frank
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft , by Stephen King
  • Becoming , by Michelle Obama
  • Educated,  by Tara Westover
  • Eat, Pray, Love,  by Elizabeth Gilbert

What About an Autobiography Essay?

Here at Bid4Papers, our writers help students with how to write an  autobiography essay . It’s a type of academic paper often assigned in college or required as a part of application documents to enter a university, participate in contests, or  get a job  or a scholarship.

An autobiography essay is not about describing your whole life but focusing on your particular accomplishment or experience, with an illustration of the lessons you’ve learned retrospectively. This paper has a “self-focused” nature, is accurate yet creative and expressive, and intends the usage of the first person (the pronoun “I”) when writing.

An autobiography essay is your chance to stand out and reveal some details about your personality and character that you couldn’t mention in your application form or resume.

In academia, you can also refer to autobiographies as  personal essays .

Key Elements to Include in Your Autobiography

Before writing autobiography, it’s essential to know its key elements to understand what to include in your essay.

While people write autobiographies to include all the details of their life, it doesn’t mean yours should contain every step you took during a lifetime. With the focus on particular moments interesting to you, consider including the following elements into your work:

  • A compelling title .  (Try avoiding generic phrases like “the story of my life,” “my autobiography,” etc.
  • A first-person narrative voice.
  • A short description of your background.  (It can be your family story, your hometown, or some touchstone moments in your school life.)
  • Significant experiences t hat shaped your personality, worldview, or your approach to life. (Think of the moments that could inspire readers and make them remember your story.)
  • A failure  followed up with your story of how you responded and what lessons you’ve learned from it.

How to Write an Autobiography Essay in 3 Steps

Whether you write an autobiographical book or an autobiography essay for a college, your work needs to follow three core principles:

It should be  logical ,  not boring , and  easy to read .

To make it logical, you need to combine all your memories into one meaningful whole, choose one core idea, and express it as a  thesis statement .

For it to be interesting, you need to reveal something you didn’t ever tell anyone, some personal details no one but you know.

If you want it to be easy to read, you need to format and structure your autobiography accordingly. You can follow the standard essay structure (and introduction , a body, and a  conclusion ), but do your best to avoid complicated language and grammar constructions.

Easier say than do, right?

No worries:

Below are the details and instructions on every step to take when writing autobiography.

Step 1: Brainstorm

Your writing process begins with exploring your background and brainstorming all the life experiences you believe might be interesting to a reader. Try recalling memories from all periods and areas of your life and decide which to include in your autobiography.

What can help:

1)  Talk with parents, grandparents, cousins, and old friends,  asking them to help you remember details of significant events.

2) Also, you can  ask each family member  to tell one favorite story from your life: The big chances are they remember some exciting details you can’t recall.

3)  Look through family photos, letters, and emails . Plus, if you keep a  diary  – fantastic! It can become the best source to recall emotions you experienced back then.

4)  Answer these questions:

  • What are your most significant achievements?
  • Can you remember your biggest failures?
  • Any lessons learned from it?
  • Can you name the best and worst moments in your life?
  • What events have changed your life?
  • How have you changed?
  • Are there any people or places that shaped and impacted your life?

To make autobiography brainstorming easier, you can use checklists like these:

autobiography-brainstorm

5) When brainstorming facts and events for your autobiography, think of how you will answer the 5 W’s:  who, where, what, when, and why . “How?” is good to consider too.

Once ready, it’s time for the second step:

Step 2: Choose a core idea

When people write autobiographies, they build the whole narration around one central idea. This idea dominates in text, unifying the entire life story throughout the autobiography. So, after you’ve explored your background, it’s time to choose a core idea for your autobiography essay.

In essay writing, we call it a thesis statement.

A few ways to pick a central thesis for your autobiography exist:

  • You can choose a  personality trait  that you believe makes you awesome. Maybe you’re great at math or  time management , for example. Why not make this fact a basement of your story?
  • What is your  life philosophy ? You can show values throughout the autobiography essay, inspiring readers and serving as an example for them.
  • Think of the  most significant concept  to you in life: love, family, friendship, wealth, freedom – you choose. Use one as a core idea of your autobiography, referring to it through every event you’ll mention in your essay.

What also matters is the format you choose for representing the core idea in your autobiography. It can help you be  more creative  and  persuade readers  to support you or agree with you.

Choose an autobiography format

Often, a question on how to write an autobiography essay appears when students don’t know or don’t understand what writing format to choose for their work.

Unless a teacher or an admission officer noted otherwise, consider formatting it as a standard essay, focusing on a specific moment or theme in your life. Feel free to use dialogues and imagery like in online magazines and blogs.

And yet, if you plan your work to stand out from others, you might want to try some alternative formats:

autobiography-format

  • A  traditional autobiography  that covers the events from your birth to the present.
  • A  memoir  that limits the information, focusing on particular moments related to one theme.
  • Vignettes  that cover one event at a time, formatting them as short chapters. In essays, you can structure events as subheads.
  • A  script  that represents your story through dialogue, like in theater or film.
  • A  graphic novel  that tells your story via images, like in comics or cartoons. It looks more like a  visual essay  where you use original pictures instead of words to complete your writing assignment.

Step 3: Write an autobiography essay

  • Create an autobiographical outline

Regardless of the format you choose, an autobiographical outline is a must to craft so you would keep a writing process organized.

Think of it as a standard  essay outline :

Order the sections into an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

Now, organize the body into sections, from medium to high interest from your brainstorm template; they can be five or more: events, people, challenges, successes, life lessons, and others.

After that, organize the ideas of each section, also ordering them from medium to high interest. For example, when writing about significant people in your life, decide whom you will tell about first, second, etc.

Your  story arc  is the most critical component of how to write an autobiography. Do your best to organize a narrative around the core idea from your brainstorm so that your story would engage readers from beginning to end.

narrative-arc-freytags-pyramid-for-writing-by-bid4papers

  • Write your first draft

Now you have everything to start writing the draft of your autobiography essay. It may seem too long at first, but no worries: you’ll have time to refine it later.

For some students, the most challenging part is to choose a start sentence for their autobiography. Here go a few examples to consider:

  • Of all the experiences in my life, this one was the most…
  • It wasn’t even a…
  • My name is…
  • I’ve been a…
  • It all started when…
  • Growing up in…
  • I was born…

None of them is a copybook maxim for you to follow. Depending on your autobiography format, you can start your story from a different angle.

Once you finish the draft, please take a little break (a few days off) to check it with the freshest possible perspective later.

  • Proofread and refine

Proofreading is not about looking for typos and grammar mistakes only. You should also identify weak moments in your story and decide on improvements.

When proofreading and editing, you may want to change the sections’ order, make your writing more dynamic, or add a plot twist for your autobiography to become even more exciting for readers. Don’t hesitate to ask a friend or a family member to read your draft and help you spot mistakes or plot gaps.

Or, you can  ask a professional editor to help you . Choose those with experience in editing autobiographies or memoirs, and they’ll assist with polishing your writing as best as possible.

Practical Tips on Writing Autobiography

The below tips will help you write autobiographies that are memorable and stand out from the crowd.

1) Choose a person

As far as autobiographies are personal stories to tell, most authors write them in the first person, using “I,” “my,” and “we” pronouns. Like this:

how-to-write-autobiography-sample

However, you can choose to write autobiography in the second or the third person:

The second person uses the “you” pronoun, referring to a reader. It’s how you can put the reader in your place, but it’s challenging to maintain throughout the whole story.

The third person users “he” and “she,” referring to your autobiography’s characters, including yourself. Here you act like an outside observer who’s telling your story.

2) Choose your story’s tense

Most autobiographies use past tense as they recall events that already happened. And yet, present tense can also be an option if you want your work to look more stylish and create a sense of immediacy for readers.

But whatever tense you choose, it’s critical to maintain it throughout the whole essay. Remember about the sequence of tenses from grammar lessons? 🙂

3) Hook readers from the very beginning

As you know from the tips on  essay hooks , it’s critical to engage readers from the very beginning of your story. You need to convince them that your writing is distinctive and worth their time.

So, play upon their nostalgia or curiosity so they wouldn’t help but continue reading to find out what your story is about. Palmary examples of the  best opening lines  come from fiction books; why not consider some for inspiration?

autobiography-openings

4) Keep it simple

This tip is convenient for those writing an autobiography essay in college. Admission officers know about your birth, grades, and academic achievements from other documents; so do your best to give them something new.

In your autobiography, avoid clichés and pompous language as well as trivial information. Keep it simple and use a writing style that goes with your personality. Be honest, and start and finish your work in an engaging, friendly way.

5) Add details and “alive” characters

When authors write autobiographies, they want readers to feel the atmosphere and relate to it. That is why details matter here.

It doesn’t mean that you have to write a super long autobiography to mention everything (literally!). It means that you should try to describe your story so that a reader could “see,” “smell,” and “feel” it.

Sensory words  can be your writing instrument here:

sensory-words

Plus, if you’re not the only character in your autobiography and tell about significant people of your life, introduce them to your audience. Describe them and add some dialogues to give them a voice for readers to understand them and their role better.

Speaking about real people, ask for permission to mention them in your work. Or, you can use fake names when writing about them.

how-to-write-an-autobiography-sample

Mistakes to Avoid When Writing Autobiography

And now, here go your five don’ts of writing an autobiography essay:

  • Don’t stuff  it with inessential details. Make it sound genuine and exciting to read.
  • Don’t make  it too long. Try to stay within a prescribed word count or stick to an essay average word count range.
  • Don’t miss  important details. Ensure you avoid significant gaps in your narration.
  • Don’t mention  any personal or embarrassing information about the characters of your autobiography essay. When writing about relatives or friends, let them know what you’re going to tell about them.
  • Don’t forget  about word choice,  grammar, punctuation , and the overall style of your essay. These details affect the meaning and the impression your work will make on others.

Further Reading

The best way to learn how to write an autobiography is to  read a lot . Reading others’ works will give you an idea of what this genre looks like and how to structure your autobiography essay or book.

Here are a few examples of autobiographical books you might want to read (apart from those already mentioned in this article):

  • My Autobiography , by Charlie Chaplin
  • The Story of My Life , by Helen Keller
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , by Book by Maya Angelou
  • Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography , by Mark Twain
  • Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail , by Cheryl Strayed

For more tips on how to write an autobiographical essay, these resources are worth checking:

  • The Best Way to Write an Autobiographical Essay
  • 7 GREAT College Essay Tips to Help You Stand Out (video)

Any questions left? Feel free to ask in the comments or  get professional help from our writers .

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Our Writing Guides

How To Write An Autobiography Essay?

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Table of contents

  • 1 What Is an Autobiography?
  • 2.1 Traditional Autobiography
  • 2.3 Intellectual Autobiography
  • 2.4 Spiritual Autobiography
  • 2.5 Confessional Autobiography
  • 2.6 Therapeutic Autobiography
  • 2.7 Fictionalized Autobiography
  • 3.1 What Structuring Approach to Choose?
  • 3.2 Thematic Order
  • 3.3 Reverse Chronological Order
  • 3.4 Flashback or Non-Linear Narrative
  • 3.5 Circular Narrative
  • 3.6 Epistolary Format
  • 4 How to Structure an Autobiography Essay?
  • 5 How to Title an Autobiography Essay?
  • 6.1 Identifying Key Life Events
  • 6.2 Theme and Narrative Arc
  • 6.3 Balancing Facts and Reflections
  • 6.4 Enhancing Your Essay with Dialogues
  • 6.5 Connecting to the Reader
  • 6.6 Honesty and Vulnerability
  • 7 Examples of Autobiography
  • 8 Bottom Line

When you start writing an autobiography essay, it simultaneously opens doors to your past, present, and future. Indeed, it’s an opportunity to delve into your experiences, emotions, and reflections, weaving them into a compelling narrative that resonates with readers. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or new to personal storytelling, the task may seem daunting. However, composing your life’s narrative can be enriching and fulfilling with the right approach.

In this article, you will find answers:

  • What types of autobiography essays exist;
  • How to write an autobiography;
  • What is the basic essay about yourself.

Let’s embark on this transformative journey together, unlocking the art of autobiographical storytelling.

What Is an Autobiography?

  • Definition and purpose: An autobiography essay is a narrative account of one’s life, exploring significant events, experiences, and reflections. Its purpose varies from personal self-reflection to academic assignments, memoir writing, or sharing insights with a broader audience. Thus, storytelling aims to convey a deeper understanding of oneself and the journey traversed.
  • Audience Consideration: Knowing your audience is paramount to crafting an effective autobiographical essay. Consider whether you’re writing for academic evaluation, personal introspection, or professional sharing. Besides, tailoring your narrative to suit your audience’s expectations, interests, and background enhances engagement and ensures your message resonates effectively.
  • Tone and Style: An autobiography essay’s choice of tone and style depends on its purpose and audience. First, consistency is key to adopting a formal, informal, or narrative tone. Also, reflect on the mood you wish to convey and the emotions associated with your experiences. It helps connect with readers and immerse them in your narrative journey.
  • Reflective Writing: Integrating personal reflections is at the heart of an autobiography essay. It involves introspection, analysis, and interpretation of life events through analogy , highlighting their significance in shaping one’s identity and worldview. Moreover, reflective writing adds depth and authenticity to your narrative, fostering a deeper understanding of oneself and fostering empathy among readers.

Essentially, an essay is your honest dialogue with the readers. To add more engagement, sometimes, you can use an informal style . This way, you can connect with the readers using a conversational tone and no specific structure ─ only your ideas and reflections.

Autobiography Types

The captivating allure of autobiographical writing lies in its intimate exploration of lived experiences. But within this seemingly singular genre, a vibrant tapestry of distinct “essay types” exists, each offering unique approaches to self-narration and ways to start an autobiography. Let’s unravel the threads of these captivating forms:

Traditional Autobiography

This type of personal autobiography tells us the story from birth to the present, typically chronologically. It delves into various facets of the author’s life, including childhood, family, education, career, relationships, and significant life events. Additionally, its breadth offers a panoramic view of the author’s journey, providing readers with a thorough understanding of their life story.

More focused than a traditional autobiography of yourself, a memoir centers around a specific theme, period, or aspect of the author’s life. It emphasizes personal reflections, emotions, and insights over a strict chronological recounting of events. By honing in on particular experiences, memoirs offer deeper insights into the author’s psyche and the lessons learned from pivotal moments.

Intellectual Autobiography

This genre focuses on the evolution of the author’s thoughts, beliefs, and intellectual pursuits. It explores how various experiences, books, and interactions have shaped the author’s worldview and philosophy. Thus, academic philosophers or thinkers often penned intellectual autobiographies, offering readers a profound journey through the author’s intellectual growth.

Spiritual Autobiography

This genre may involve experiences of conversion, enlightenment, or a deepening of faith. While common in religious contexts, spiritual autobiographies can also encompass non-religious spiritual experiences, providing readers with insights into the author’s quest for meaning and transcendence. Don’t forget about the topic sentence as well.

Confessional Autobiography

This genre focuses on confessing and reflecting upon personal mistakes, struggles, or failures. Accordingly, it often adopts a tone of redemption or lessons learned. Besides, confessional autobiographies can be cathartic for the author and inspirational for readers navigating challenges. Thus, if you want to motivate readers to overcome some difficulties, you can write an autobiography about yourself and offer readers glimpses into the author’s vulnerabilities and triumphs.

Therapeutic Autobiography

Therapeutic autobiographies involve writing about traumatic or significant life events to process and understand them better. While not always intended for publication, these narratives serve as a means of personal growth and healing, empowering authors to reclaim their narratives, find solace in storytelling, and hook a reader.

Fictionalized Autobiography

This genre draws inspiration from the author’s life but incorporates fictional elements, altered events, or imagined characters. Indeed, fictionalized autobiographies offer creative freedom and allow authors to explore themes that might be difficult to address directly, providing a captivating blend of truth and imagination.

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Composing an Autobiography About Myself Essay Outline

Crafting an essay structure provides a roadmap for students to a comprehensive autobiographical essay outline. Moreover, it helps organize thoughts and ensures a cohesive narrative flow.

What Structuring Approach to Choose?

Choosing the right essay outline approach while writing an autobiography about yourself is crucial. While chronological order is straightforward, other methods like thematic or narrative structures offer unique perspectives and deeper insights into your life story.

Thematic Order

Writing an autobiography around central themes or subjects rather than time is the simplest way to create an autobiography essay. For example, if you’ve had a life-long passion for music, you could structure your story around music’s role at different stages of your life. Consequently, this approach allows you to delve deeply into how specific themes have influenced your development and worldview. If you need some help with the beginning, find hook examples .

Reverse Chronological Order

If you want to make your essay more engaging, you can use this method. Accordingly, write an autobiography starting from the present and working backward. It can be intriguing as it starts with who you are now and gradually reveals how you got there. For instance, you could begin with your current career achievements and then trace back to your education and early influences. Thus, this method can create suspense and a sense of discovery for the reader.

Flashback or Non-Linear Narrative

This method will help you to create a nonstandard essay. For example, when you write an autobiography essay, begin with a significant event and then use flashbacks to provide context and background. It can create a dramatic effect and draw readers in by immediately immersing them in a pivotal moment. After the initial event, you can jump around in time to slowly unravel the story and its implications.

Circular Narrative

Another way to make an engaging essay is by using a circular narrative approach when you plan your essay . For example, students who start and end with the same scene or theme create a circular journey. Thus, this technique can emphasize personal growth or resolving crucial life challenges. For instance, you might start with a scene of you running in a marathon, then recount how you became a runner, and conclude with the same marathon scene, now imbued with deeper meaning. Besides, you can find more autobiography examples for students on the Internet.

Epistolary Format

You may think that this method is only suitable for fiction books. However, it works just as well with autobiographical student essays. For this purpose, try to write your life story through letters, diary entries, or emails. It can provide a personal and intimate feel, and the chronological order can be varied to convey your story best. If you need help, you can always order essay online .

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How to Structure an Autobiography Essay?

When you Google: “ autobiography of myself as a student, ” you can find the answer varies depending on the individual’s experiences and storytelling style. However, the following autobiography format is commonly used among students.

The “autobiography about yourself” format is simple and similar to any other type of essay. There are no strict limitations or requirements, but certain considerations should be considered.

Each body paragraph should focus on one event or story, maintaining a clear and well-structured path through the paper. Moreover, providing details and writing with clarity is essential, as readers need background information, context, and character relationships to engage fully.

Although not strictly chronological, the essay should have a logical structure, allowing retrospections and flashbacks to flow smoothly. Transitioning between paragraphs should be seamless to maintain coherence and clarity.

Introduction:

Crafting an engaging introduction sets the tone for the essay and presents the thesis, or central theme. Accordingly, it should capture the reader’s attention and provide a glimpse into the unfolding story. Thus, start an autobiography essay with interesting facts about yourself.

Body Paragraphs:

Structuring body paragraphs involves developing the narrative, providing vivid details, and ensuring coherence. For this purpose, each paragraph should contribute to the overarching story while focusing on the chosen themes or events.

Transitions:

If you use transitions between different stages or events in the story when writing an autobiographical essay, the essay becomes flow and coherent. Likewise, transition words and phrases help guide readers through the narrative, ensuring a seamless reading experience.

Autobiography conclusion:

To end an autobiography, you must summarize the main autobiography ideas presented in the essay and may offer insights or reflections on the author’s experiences. It should be concise and impactful, leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

While these components are typical of autobiographical writing, the order and emphasis may vary depending on the author’s preferences and storytelling approach. Ultimately, the goal is to create a cohesive autobiography narrative that engages readers and offers insight into the author’s life journey.

After writing, you need to revise and polish the essay . Also, don’t forget about punctuation rules .

How to Title an Autobiography Essay?

In autobiography writing, there are no rules for beginning at a certain point; some students prefer to write the title first, and others leave the tasks to the end. How to begin an autobiographical essay depends on the writer, but one of the most important things, regardless of its order, is a good title.

The key points to consider when titling an autobiography are:

  • Keeping the title short and precise.
  • Make it as engaging as possible.
  • Don’t include every keyword you chose in this part.

Some good title examples are:

  • The Moment That Changed It All.
  • My First Day at the Office Taught Me 4 Things.
  • Surviving College.

Tips on Writing Autobiographical Essay

Crafting a compelling autobiographical essay requires careful consideration and skillful storytelling. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process and create a captivating narrative that resonates with readers.

Identifying Key Life Events

Identify key events or periods that have shaped who you are today. These could be moments of triumph, struggle, growth, or transformation. For this purpose, choose events that are significant to your personal development and contribute to the overarching narrative of your story.

Theme and Narrative Arc

Find a central theme or narrative arc that ties your story together. It could be a journey of self-discovery, resilience in the face of adversity, or pursuing a lifelong passion. Thus, a clear theme will help guide your storytelling and give your essay depth and coherence.

Balancing Facts and Reflections

Strike a balance between storytelling and personal reflections. While providing factual details and descriptions is important, remember to infuse your narrative with insights and reflections that add depth and meaning to your experiences. As a rule, you should use storytelling techniques such as vivid imagery, sensory details, and emotional resonance to bring your story to life.

Enhancing Your Essay with Dialogues

Consider incorporating dialogues into your narrative to add authenticity and depth. No doubt, dialogues can bring characters to life, provide insight into relationships, and create moments of tension or intimacy. Use dialogues sparingly and strategically to enhance the overall impact of your essay.

Connecting to the Reader

Make your story relatable and engaging by connecting with the reader personally. For instance, share universal truths, emotions, and experiences that resonate with a broader audience. Plus, use descriptive language, vivid anecdotes, and heartfelt reflections to draw readers into your world and make them feel invested in your journey.

Honesty and Vulnerability

Be honest and vulnerable in your narrative, openly sharing your triumphs and struggles. Accordingly, you can embrace vulnerability as a strength, not a weakness, and show humility in recounting your experiences. Besides, authenticity fosters empathy and connection with readers, making your story more impactful and memorable.

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Examples of Autobiography

Reading other autobiographies can provide valuable insights into various narrative techniques, styles, and content choices. By exploring how different authors have structured their life stories, you can gain inspiration for your autobiography. For instance, “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank offers a poignant perspective through diary entries, while “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela provides a comprehensive look at political struggle and personal growth.

Other notable examples of autobiographies:

  • “Dreams from My Father” by Barack Obama: A memoir by the former U.S. President exploring his early years, his journey of racial identity, and his start in politics.
  • “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway: Hemingway’s memoir of his years as a young writer in Paris in the 1920s, filled with insights into his creative process and portraits of other famous contemporaries.
  • “Educated” by Tara Westover: A recent memoir that has gained significant attention, it tells the story of Westover’s upbringing in a strict and abusive household in rural Idaho, her self-education, and her eventual escape to study at Cambridge and Harvard.
  • “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt: A Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir detailing McCourt’s impoverished childhood in Ireland and his family’s struggles with poverty and alcoholism.

Bottom Line

When you write an autobiography about yourself, you must reflect on the key takeaways. Thus, embracing authenticity, selecting significant life events, and weaving them into a cohesive narrative is paramount. Your story becomes compelling and relatable by finding a central theme or narrative arc, balancing facts with reflections, and connecting with readers personally. Additionally, honesty and vulnerability are your allies in engaging readers and leaving a lasting impact. Therefore, conclude an autobiography with these insights and embark on your journey of self-discovery through storytelling, knowing that your autobiographical essays for college can inspire and resonate with others. Feel free to use a professional essay service if you need some help with the essay.

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how to write a critical autobiography

Autobiography Writing Guide

Autobiography Examples

Last updated on: Nov 20, 2023

Autobiography Examples – Detailed Outline and Samples

By: Barbara P.

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Mar 22, 2023

Autobiography Examples

We all have stories to tell. And, for some of us, the only way we feel like we can get our story out there is by writing it down. Some people may believe that an autobiography is something only famous people write about themselves but that is not true. 

In fact, anyone who has a story worth telling can write an autobiography. 

If you are assigned to write an autobiography in your high school or college and you are confused about where to start, don’t panic. 

You are at the right place.

Explore this detailed guide to understand the concept of writing an autobiography. It will also provide you with some great autobiography examples for a better understanding.

Autobiography Examples

On this Page

What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is a kind of the self-written story of a person's life. This type of narration has various aims and objectives that depend on the kind of writing that you decide to go with.

Moreover, it has different types. A writer can choose any of them on the basis of what he wants to include in his story.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OUTLINE (PDF)

AUTOBIOGRAPHY TEMPLATE (PDF)

Struggling to understand the basics of autobiography? Check out this how to write an autobiography to understand the key prerequisite of autobiographies. 

Autobiography Types

Below-mentioned is the four main types of autobiography. These include:

1. Traditional Autobiography –  It is a complete story that covers all life experiences including birth, childhood, and adulthood. You can write it for personal use. However, if you feel that your life can be inspiring for others, you can also write it for the wider public.

2. Memoir –  It focuses on describing a specific event, relationship, time period, or place that has an effect on your personality and life. For example, it may include your hometown or an important relationship.

3. Personal Essay –  It is the idea of sharing your life story with the audience in a way that they feel as if they were a part of it. Similarly, it also describes two aspects including the event and how it affected the beliefs.

4. Confessional –  Some people find comfort in writing about their mistakes and sins. Thus, they write this type of autobiography so that people will learn from their mistakes and avoid them.

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Examples are an essential way to learn something in less time. Therefore, we have stated some examples for you to write your autobiographies. These will also help to learn about a proper autobiography template and structure.

Have a look at these autobiography examples to get a better understanding.

Cultural Autobiography Examples

CULTURAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY (PDF)

Educational Autobiography Examples for Students 

EDUCATIONAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY (PDF)

Autobiography Examples For Class 6

Autobiography Examples For Grade 7

Autobiography Examples For College Students

Autobiography Examples About Yourself

Autobiography Examples Ks2

Famous Personality Autobiography

The autobiography of benjamin franklin is one example of a famous personality autobiography. Similarly, these famous autobiography examples will provide you with everything to get started with your famous personality autobiography.

FAMOUS PERSONALITY AUTOBIOGRAPHY (PDF)

Funny Autobiography

FUNNY AUTOBIOGRAPHY (PDF)

High School Autobiography

HIGH SCHOOL AUTOBIOGRAPHY (PDF)

Literary Autobiography Example

Literary Autobiography

Personal Autobiography

PERSONAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY (PDF)

Professional Autobiography

PROFESSIONAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY (PDF)

Struggling to understand the difference between memoir and autobiography? Check this guide with memoir vs autobiography examples to differentiate between the two terms.

Scientific Autobiography

SCIENTIFIC AUTOBIOGRAPHY (PDF)

Short Autobiography Examples for Students

SHORT AUTOBIOGRAPHY (PDF)

Autobiography Examples Books

Autobiography example books provide a detailed insight into the life of an individual. Through these real-life stories, readers get to know more about a person's experiences and how they overcame challenges. 

Book Autobiography Sample

Spiritual Autobiography Examples

Spiritual autobiographies are a great way to reflect on one's spiritual journey and the lessons learned along the way. Here is an example to help you out.

Spiritual Autobiography Sample

The Dos and Don'ts of an Autobiography

A successful autobiography indicates the author’s ability to present a worthwhile story. There are a wide variety of things that you can talk about while writing your personal narratives.

However, the following are some dos and don'ts of writing an autobiography that will help in refining your writing skills.

Some dos of writing an autobiography are:

  • Understanding the Intended Audience

There is a huge difference when you are writing an autobiography for your friends or a group of strangers. Because it requires extensive details about life events and experiences. Thus, make sure to include facts that you consider significant.

  • Developing A Core Concept

It is essential to identify the central theme of your autobiography. Moreover, a well-structured outline is also a proper way of associating one event with another. It will also set the interest of the readers by keeping the story consistent from the beginning to the end.

  • Do Tell the Truth

Do not portray yourself as the hero or villain of the story. Instead, tell the truth and acknowledge your mistakes by exposing your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Revising and Editing

Read aloud what you have written and do some editing. Check if your ideas flow logically and look out for interrupting thoughts.

  • Do Seek Feedback

Ask your friends and family to read your work and provide you with feedback. Understand the difference between fair criticism and forced judgment.

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Don’ts of Writing an Autobiography

Below mentioned are some don'ts of writing an autobiography.

  • Do Not Mention Unnecessary Details

Include relevant details and struggles when narrating your life story. Avoid adding unnecessary details. Instead, share the information that is directly related to your story.

  • Stop Worrying About Others

Your story may contain some details that can have a negative effect on others. Do not worry about them and rearrange all the details.

Moreover, remember that you are not here to please everyone. Thus, avoid writing for a broader audience and make your story too generic and specific for the readers.

  • Discuss Why Your Story Is Inspiring

If your main goal is to inspire people with your story, show them how you felt instead of telling them directly. Allow the audience to come to the conclusion through your writing style.

  • Avoid Copying Someone's Story

It is a big mistake to copy someone's work to make your story compelling. Find the hook and unique points that are marketable. Also, think of all these details before you begin writing.

Autobiographies aim to educate and inform others in some ways. This blog has provided all the essential details to write an autobiography. You can generate even more samples of autobiography through our FREE AI-based paper writer . 

If you are still looking up “ who can write my essay? ”, relying on a professional expert is a good option. Make sure you select a reliable and top-ranked writing service, 5StarEssays.com . We guarantee you high-quality write essay services with zero percent plagiarism.

Give us a chance and place your order now by contacting our professional writers through the live chat option.

Barbara P.

Literature, Marketing

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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50 Eye-Catching Autobiography Titles (+ How to Write Your Own)

how to write a critical autobiography

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The proven path from blank page to 10,000 copies sold.

You’ve written your life story. 

You’ve laid your heart bare before the world

So, what’s the best title for your one-of-a-kind masterpiece?

“____________: An Autobiography”?

Seriously, unless you’re a household name, using “autobiography” as part of your title might not work in your favor, but not to worry. You don’t have to be famous to write an autobiography , but you do need a title that will grab a buyer's attention, so they know your book is worth a second look.

Don't like it?

The purpose of this article is to break down what makes a standout autobiography title and the process for creating your own. 

Need autobiography titles? Let's dive in!

The secret sauce for writing an amazing book title.

The process of creating an autobiography book title that gets noticed starts with a marketer's mindset.

Yes, it all boils down to strategic book positioning in the marketplace. Creativity is a big part of it, but that’s a small part of the bigger picture. After all, if your book doesn't get in front of the people who would be most likely to read it, you can't change lives with the content inside!

Unlike fiction books or other types of nonfiction books (e.g. business books or textbooks) where there’s a specific category or genre expectation, autobiographies play by their own set of rules—the more creative the better. 

How to think like a marketer when creating your title

If you are self-publishing your book, then you’re probably already aware that marketing is a key component of your book’s success, but what is marketing exactly? 

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as

Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. 

When marketing your book, knowing how to write a good book title matters, because, along with your cover, it’s the first thing a potential buyer sees (reads) before making a buying decision. A casual search for “autobiography” on Amazon pulled up over 700,000 results. This doesn’t mean that every book belongs in the category, but it’s still a lot of books.

You might be asking how you get your book to rise to the top of search results.

Start with a great title. 

Here are some best practices:

  • Make your title relevant – You can never go wrong with a title that reflects the theme of your book . This will clue buyers into what to expect. You can also go with a significant statement or quote drawn directly from your story. Clever titles also work, but try to stay away from the cheesy ones that confuse buyers.
  • Appeal to your ideal audience’s needs – Every book is not for everyone. Target a specific reader type when creating your title. For example, meteorologist and television personality Ginger Zee titled her book Natural Disasters. This title works well for her because her book’s content is about the unpredictable “storms” of life she has faced and she also covers storms in her reporting. 
  • Stay away from clickbait – Or anything that leads readers to believe your book is about one thing but it’s something else. This only frustrates readers and could potentially lead to bad reviews. 
  • Use a primary keyword in your title if it fits – First Gen by Alejandra Campoverdi and Cooked by Jeff Henderson include keyword(s) that are relevant to buyer searches. 
  • Invite the reader into your story – This can be done by asking a question like the autobiography title What Are You Doing Here? by Baroness Floella Benjamin. Or, create an image in their mind like The Ugly Cry by Danielle Henderson or The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish. 

Hint: Keep it short. According to Amazon, “Customers are more likely to skim past long titles (over 60 characters). There are exceptions to the rules. You’ll see some in the list that follows.

Don’t forget about writing a subtitle for your book . They are optional but a great way to add a splash of flavor. 

50 eye-catching autobiography titles that inspire

After an exhaustive search in the autobiography categories of the top online book retailers, I selected 50 incredible autobiography titles as a starting point for creating an amazing title for your autobiography. Note: Memoir titles listed under the autobiography category are included in the list.

Autobiography titles about celebrities

  • What Are You Doing Here? – Baronness Floella Benjamin
  • Tis Herself – Maureen O’Hara
  • F inding Me by Viola Davis
  • Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating, and Dusting Off Your Boots By Reba McEntire
  • Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories by Kelly Ripa
  • Thicker than Water by Kerry Washington
  • We Were Dreamers by Simu Liu
  • Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today by Valerie Bertinelli
  • Just as I am by Cicely Tyson
  • A Promised Land by Barack Obama
  • Making It So by Patrick Stewart
  • Inside Out by Demi Moore
  • In Pieces by Sally Field
  • The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
  • Boldly Go: Reflections on a Life of Awe and Wonder by William Shatner
  • Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini
  • Look Out for the Little Guy! By Scott Lang
  • I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons by Kevin Hart, Neil Strauss
  • No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality by Michael J. Fox
  • Scenes from My Life by Michael K. Williams
  • The Way I Heard It by Mike Rowe
  • I Came as a Shadow – John Thompson

Autobiography titles about authors

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings  by Maya Angelou
  • Lit by Mary Karr

Autobiography titles about family

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Mott Street by Ava Chin
  • The Girl in the Middle by Anais Granofsky
  • All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
  • The Ugly Cry by Danielle Henderson

Autobiography titles about immigration, culture, and race

  • Good Morning, Hope: A True Story of Refugee Twin Sisters and Their Triumph over War, Poverty, and Heartbreak by Argita Zalli, and Detina Zalli 
  • Negroland by Margo Jefferson
  • First Gen by Alejandra Campoverdi
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui
  • Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story – Mazie K. Hirono
  • The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clementine Wamariya, Elizabeth Weil

Autobiography titles about beating the odds

  • Cooked by Jeff Henderson
  • The Pale-Faced Lie by David Crow
  • Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Mann, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory
  • When the Tears Dry by Meredith Hawkins
  • Reaching for the Moon by Katherine Johnson
  • 80 Percent Luck, 20 Percent Skill: My Life as a WWII Navy Ferry Pilot by Ralph T. Alshouse

Autobiography titles about faith

  • Like a River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward After Loss and Heartache by Granger Smith
  • The Barn by David Hill
  • All My Knotted-Up Life by Beth Moore

Autobiography titles about journalists, reporters, and media

  • Natural Disaster: I Cover Them. I am One by Ginger Zee
  • Going There by Katie Couric
  • Rough Draft by Kati Tur
  • The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day

Use a free tool to generate your own autobiography title

You obviously can't use these published autobiography titles for your own book – but you can use our free book title generator to come up with suggestions that you could use.

It's really easy to use, and instantly gives you an unlimited amount of working titles – or even final titles – to use for your book!

1. Select nonfiction for the book’s genre in the drop-down menu

how to write a critical autobiography

2. Fill in the details

For the next question, if you have a book description, type “yes” and add your description in the text box.

If you don’t have a description yet, answer “no” and fill out the questions. Eventually, you will need to write a book description , but this is often something our authors do after they complete their manuscript .

Incredible Biography Titles - Book Title Generator Description Question Section

3. Click “generate”

That's it! Get ready for some unique autobiography book title suggestions. Remember, if you don't like the one that you see, you can continue to generate as many as you'd like.

Final thoughts

Your autobiography title can be the difference between someone scrolling past your book on Amazon or stopping to read a sample. Whatever title you choose, remember that it’s just as much about you as your reader. Make them want to read your story by giving them something unique that piques their interest. 

You can also look for inspiration in other genres. For example, some memoir book titles could also lend well to an autobiography – like What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo. Intriguing, isn't it? Don't limit yourself!

Are you ready to take the next steps with your autobiography? We have a professional publishing team ready to guide you through the book development process. 

how to write a critical autobiography

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Autobiography as Indigenous Intellectual Tradition: Cree and Métis âcimisowina by Deanna Reder (review)

  • Rachel Stubbs
  • University of Hawai'i Press
  • Volume 46, Number 2, 2023
  • pp. 437-439
  • 10.1353/bio.2023.a928390
  • View Citation

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IMAGES

  1. Writing An Autobiography Template

    how to write a critical autobiography

  2. Autobiography

    how to write a critical autobiography

  3. How to Write an Autobiography: 7 Key Steps

    how to write a critical autobiography

  4. How to Write an Autobiography in 3 Steps: Practical Tips and Examples

    how to write a critical autobiography

  5. How to Write an Autobiography in 3 Steps: Practical Tips and Examples

    how to write a critical autobiography

  6. How To Start And How To Write An Autobiography Essay [Examples] (2022)

    how to write a critical autobiography

VIDEO

  1. How to write and develop critical essays

  2. How to write an Autobiography

  3. How To Write Your Life Story: Memoir Vs Autobiography

  4. How To Write Critical Summary / Critical Appreciation /Summary Writing

  5. How to write Critical Appreciation / Analysis of a poem

  6. How to write critical appreciation of an unknown poem || SEC-B2 || SEM-4

COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Critical Analysis of an Autobiography

    A critical analysis strives to convey the reader's opinion about the quality of the autobiography's writing and content. All opinions in a critical analysis need to be substantiated with specific references to the text by referencing either a section of the book or a specific quote.

  2. CRITICAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY

    Critical autobiographical writing rests on two concepts: the prefix auto-, meaning of the self, and biography . Recently this type of writing has come to represent one of the ways individuals can tell their personal or professional stories (Harris, 2005). In the context of the teaching profession, critical autobiography is in ef fect a form of ...

  3. How To Write An Autobiography: A Detailed & Comprehensive Guide

    When you write an autobiography, you want to use first-person writing. You are telling the story of you. Therefore you should tell it from your own point of view. On the other hand, biographies should always be written from a third-person point of view. Third-person is using "he, she, they, them.".

  4. How To Write an Autobiography 2024 (Tips, Templates, & Guide)

    Order your sections (from medium to high interest) Order the ideas in each section (from medium to high interest) Write three questions to answer in each section. Choose a starter sentence. Complete a title template. Write each section of your by completing the starter sentence and answering all three questions.

  5. Critical autobiography: a new genre?

    Other examples, such as the work of Miranda July, Teju Cole, and, Maggie Nelson's autobiographies could easily be added to the list. These works share a nuanced and critical relation with memoir and with the tension between the nonfictional writing commanded by autobiography and the fictional universe—whether in poetic or prosaic form.

  6. Autobiography Definition, Examples, and Writing Guide

    Autobiography Definition, Examples, and Writing Guide. Written by MasterClass. Last updated: Aug 26, 2022 • 6 min read. As a firsthand account of the author's own life, an autobiography offers readers an unmatched level of intimacy. Learn how to write your first autobiography with examples from MasterClass instructors.

  7. How to Write a Review of a Critical Biography

    You can write an excellent review of a critical biography if you follow these four steps: Gather pertinent information about the biographer. Plan the content of the review. Draft the introduction ...

  8. Shaping Your Legacy: How to Write a Compelling Autobiography

    The goal of an autobiography is to allow readers to explore a factual, chronological telling of the author's life. Autobiographies aren't merely catalogues of events, however; they need soulful introspection too. Think about why certain episodes mattered more than others and how those experiences influenced your perspectives or decisions ...

  9. Autobiography: What Is it and How to Write? (+ Examples)

    Step 4: Write with Detail and Emotion. An important aspect of writing an autobiography for college is appealing to emotion. As you delve into each body paragraph, share your story with vivid details. Use descriptive language to bring your experiences to life for the reader.

  10. How to Write an Autobiography (Fully Explained)

    Another way to write your autobiography or memoir is to imagine you're writing a letter to yourself. A great letter is to tell yourself the story you want to write about yourself. Or you can take on the role of mentor to yourself: The "you," in this case, is your current self. Write a letter to your former self.

  11. How to Write an Autobiography in 31 Steps

    3. Read. A great way to learn how to write an autobiography is to read. A lot. Reading other autobiographies will give you an idea of which direction to go in and how this genre is structured. It can also help you to develop your style and tone of voice, and to pinpoint which writing techniques you find most effective.

  12. How to Write a Biography in 8 Steps (The Non-Boring Way!)

    Conduct relevant interviews. Whenever possible, seek firsthand accounts from those who knew or interacted with the subject. Conduct interviews with family members, friends, colleagues, or experts in the field. Their insights and anecdotes can provide a deeper understanding of the person's character and experiences.

  13. How to Write an Autobiography and Publish it in 7 Easy Steps

    Step 6: Get a Professional Editor. Once you've made your autobiography as good as you can make it, it's time to seek help. While you can certainly give a copy of the book to some friends and family to see what they think, keep in mind they're likely biased. Chances are they're also not professional editors, either.

  14. How to write an Autobiography

    Structure of an Autobiography: Usually written in chronological order. Uses time connectives such as before, then, after that, finally, etc. Uses the names of real people and events. Is specific about times, dates, places, etc. Includes personal memories and specific details and descriptions.

  15. Writing an Autobiography

    The main purpose of an autobiography is to share one's life story with others from a first-person perspective. Autobiographies are useful documents to highlight key events in one's life. They can ...

  16. How to Write a Biography: The Proven 5-Step Ultimate Guide

    A good writing routine can make the process smoother and more enjoyable. Choose a Writing Space: Find a quiet, comfortable place free of distractions. Set a Time: Write at the same time each day to build a habit. Prepare Mentally: Take a few minutes before writing to clear your mind and focus on the task ahead.

  17. How to Write an Autobiography: 11 Simple Steps

    8- Edit and Revise. Once you've written your story, the next vital step in your journey to write an autobiography is editing and revising. Take a critical look at your work, focusing on clarity and impact. Simplify complex sentences, making your language easy to grasp.

  18. How to Write an Autobiography in 3 Steps

    1) Choose a person. As far as autobiographies are personal stories to tell, most authors write them in the first person, using "I," "my," and "we" pronouns. Like this: However, you can choose to write autobiography in the second or the third person: The second person uses the "you" pronoun, referring to a reader.

  19. How To Write An Autobiography Essay: Step-by-Step Guide

    6 Tips on Writing Autobiographical Essay. 6.1 Identifying Key Life Events. 6.2 Theme and Narrative Arc. 6.3 Balancing Facts and Reflections. 6.4 Enhancing Your Essay with Dialogues. 6.5 Connecting to the Reader. 6.6 Honesty and Vulnerability. 7 Examples of Autobiography. 8 Bottom Line.

  20. The Only (FREE) Autobiography Template You Need

    Write an eye-catching autobiography title for your book. Leave out the minutia. If it doesn't move your story along, drop it. Tone matters. A good rule of thumb is to write your story like you were talking to a friend. Your story doesn't have to be a monotone race to the finish line. Spice it up. Add some sparkle.

  21. Autobiography Examples

    Famous Personality Autobiography. The autobiography of benjamin franklin is one example of a famous personality autobiography. Similarly, these famous autobiography examples will provide you with everything to get started with your famous personality autobiography. It elaborates the family, education, and career details of Wolfgang Ketterle.

  22. 50 Eye-Catching Autobiography Titles (+ How to Write Your Own)

    1. Select nonfiction for the book's genre in the drop-down menu. 2. Fill in the details. For the next question, if you have a book description, type "yes" and add your description in the text box. If you don't have a description yet, answer "no" and fill out the questions.

  23. Project MUSE

    In Autobiography as Indigenous Intellectual Tradition: Cree and Métis âcimisowina, Cree and Métis author Deanna Reder explores the extent to which autobiography constitutes a component of Indigenous literature.Reder currently works as an associate professor of Indigenous Studies and English at Simon Fraser University, which informs her research and writing.