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The Only (FREE) Autobiography Template You Need – 4 Simple Steps

POSTED ON Nov 22, 2023

Shannon Clark

Written by Shannon Clark

Are you looking for an autobiography template? 

First things first.

What is your story? Not the shiny, air-brushed one you edit before posting on Instagram or the one you politely share during a writer’s chat on Zoom.

By your story, I mean the one with the cracks in it caused by childhood insecurities or the deep craters forged by unexpected collisions with life—the triumphs and tragedies that are forever etched into your DNA.

Yes, that story.

When you’re truly ready to write an autobiography, you’ll know it because you’ve come to a point in your life where the beauty of sharing your story has nothing to do with perfection. It’s knowing that despite the roller coaster ride that started at birth, you’ve found the courage to stay on it—sometimes holding on for dear life and other times riding with your hands up and screaming at the top of your lungs. 

Get your autobiography template here:

Need A Nonfiction Book Outline?

You’ve lived thoroughly and learned to embrace who you’ve become in the process, scars and all. 

This post will show you the format for writing an autobiography and the best way to package your story so you can provide the best reader experience possible.

This blog gives you a free autobiography template and more…

What is an autobiography.

The basic definition of an autobiography is that it’s a first-person account of your life. It differs from a memoir , which usually focuses on a single event or group of events that lead you to a discovery about yourself, your life, or some other revelation. An autobiography is a look at the total sum of your life from birth (early childhood) to the time of your book’s writing that highlights the key points that shaped who you’ve become.

YouTube video

Ready to start writing your autobiography? Let's get into it…

What is the format for an autobiography? 

Just like any good story, every autobiography has a beginning, middle, and end. But before you begin filling in the sections, you want to come up with a theme for your book . Most people have too much life content to fit into one book. Selecting the parts that fit under the umbrella of a theme will make the book easier to follow. 

When coming up with a theme, think about what you want the key takeaway to be for the reader. You don’t want to give them some boring slog through your life history. If you want them to feel something, your book needs direction. That’s where your theme takes the lead. By keeping it in the back of your mind while writing, you’ll give your readers a track to stay on. Otherwise, they may lose interest and stop reading.

Once you have your theme, right down the events in your life that are related to your book’s focus. You’ll plug these into the outline as you develop it. 

Some examples of autobiography book themes are:

  • Overcoming challenges
  • Creating your own destiny
  • The unbreakable bonds of family
  • A faith journey
  • Perseverance

Your theme can be whatever you want it to be, but keep your audience in mind when selecting one. Below you’ll find an autobiography template. It includes an outline with writing prompts in each section. 

Whether you are an “outliner” (someone who outlines) or a “pantser” (someone who writes by the seat of their pants), the outline has enough structure and flexibility to make both writer types happy. 

Autobiography Template: An Outline

I've laid out what a traditional autobiography might look like below. But to really help you get the most out of the blog post, I recommend downloading our nonfiction book outline to use alongside this guide.

1.  Introduction 

Before you share your life story, prepare your readers for what is to follow by introducing yourself and telling them what they can expect. You can cover some or all of the following:

  • Why you are writing your autobiography?
  • What do you hope the reader will take away from the experience?
  • Any pertinent information that’s not covered in your book but that is needed for context.

2. The beginning – the early years

Since autobiographies are a condensed view of your life, you want to focus on the significant events that will move your story forward.

  • Where do you want to begin your story? 
  • Where does your book’s theme first show up when you look back over your life? You want the opening of your book to have an impact, so choose something that will hook your readers and bring them into your world.
  • How did your formative years influence how you viewed yourself? What we experience during our childhood can affect us for a lifetime. Consider how the early events of your life developed your character.
  • Who influenced you the most during your childhood?
  • What defining moments do you remember?

Where (on your timeline) and how you start your story is up to you. You want it to be something strong and significant to have the most impact on your reader. Here are the first few sentences of some autobiographies for inspiration .

Autobiography Template - &Quot;Not That Fancy&Quot; By Reba Mcentire

“Some would say the McEntires are a very set-in-their-ways, stubborn, hardheaded bunch of people. But I think that hardheadedness is what got Daddy to where he was, Grandpap to where he was, and his father, Pap, to where he was. Some might say it wasn't all that far- but it was much further than where they started!” 

– Not That Fancy: Simple Lessons on Living, Loving, Eating, and Dusting Off Your Boots by Reba McEntire

(Nostalgia / Specific Event)

Autobiography Template - &Quot;This Time Together&Quot; By Carol Burnett

“My grandmother Nanny and I were at the picture show. I hadn't reached two digits yet in age because I distinctly remember my feet couldn't touch the floor of the movie house. Nanny and I were still living in San Antonio, Texas. My mama and daddy had gone ahead to California, where Nanny and I would later wind up.” – This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection by Carol Burnett

(From Birth)

Autobiography Template - &Quot;God, Family, Country&Quot; By Craig Morgan

“ If you know my music, you almost certainly know me as Craig Morgan. But I was actually born Craig Morgan Greer. Craig Morgan came along many years later.” – God, Family, Country: A Memoir by Craig Morgan

  • 31 Best Autobiographies
  • 30 Celebrity Autobiographies

3. The middle- halfway between the early years and where you are today.

If you are using a timeline to divide your story, the period that you cover during the “middle” of your autobiography depends on how old you are at the writing of your book. If you are in your golden years, your midpoint might be in your 30s or 40s. For someone like Malala Yousafzai , who wrote her autobiography at age 15, her “middle” looked very different. 

Whichever “middle” you choose consider the following:

  • What are the defining moments during this time of your life? 
  • Did they change how you viewed yourself?
  • Did they change the trajectory of what you initially thought you’d do with your life?
  • Who had the most influence on your life during this time?
  • What are some of the challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?
  • Did your worldview change during this time? If so, in what ways?

If your “middle” doesn’t fit neatly into a timeline, consider grouping your autobiography into themed sections.

The autobiography Cash by Johnny Cash groups his story into sections based on places that had special meaning to him: Cinnamon Hill, The Road, Port Rickey, Bon Aqua, and The Road Again.

4. The end—wrap-up

The end of your autobiography is the climax. It’s what you’ve been leading your reader to since the first sentence of your book. 

  • Where are you in your life now? What have you learned? How has your journey impacted who you’ve become? 
  • How do you want the reader to feel when they read the last sentence of your book? Inspired? Hopeful? Full? Enlightened? Satisfied? All of the above? 
  • Is there any part of your life that feels unfinished or incomplete? 
  • Looking back over your life, what is the greatest lesson you learned?
  • Don’t forget your audience, especially at the beginning of your book. You want to hook your readers early and bring them along for the ride.
  • 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. Make sure your personality shines through. 
  • It’s always about the story. Buyers pick up your book to be entertained. Regardless of how serious your story is, it should be presented in a way that makes the reader want to keep turning the page. 
  • Every good story has a resolution. Good or bad, offer a resolution for each life conflict you introduce.
  • As you share the final pieces of your story, use the end of your story to reflect on where you’ve been, what you’ve learned, and where you plan to go from there. Every relationship that ends can benefit from closure, and if the end of your story is not the end of your relationship with your reader, tell them where they can go to continue getting to know you.

Writing your autobiography is a courageous move, but who better to write your life story than you? If you have experiences that others will find interesting, share! You never know how your journey will impact someone else. 

If you’re serious about getting your story published, Selfpublishing.com has a team of publishing experts who can walk you through the book development process.

writing autobiography template

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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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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

writing autobiography template

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

writing autobiography template

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

writing autobiography template

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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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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Posted on Jun 30, 2023

How to Write a Biography: A 7-Step Guide [+Template]

From time to time, nonfiction authors become so captivated by a particular figure from either the present or the past, that they feel compelled to write an entire book about their life. Whether casting them as heroes or villains, there is an interesting quality in their humanity that compels these authors to revisit their life paths and write their story.

However, portraying someone’s life on paper in a comprehensive and engaging way requires solid preparation. If you’re looking to write a biography yourself, in this post we’ll share a step-by-step blueprint that you can follow. 

How to write a biography: 

1. Seek permission when possible 

2. research your subject thoroughly, 3. do interviews and visit locations, 4. organize your findings, 5. identify a central thesis, 6. write it using narrative elements, 7. get feedback and polish the text.

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While you technically don’t need permission to write about public figures (or deceased ones), that doesn't guarantee their legal team won't pursue legal action against you. Author Kitty Kelley was sued by Frank Sinatra before she even started to write His Way , a biography that paints Ol Blue Eyes in a controversial light. (Kelley ended up winning the lawsuit, however).  

writing autobiography template

Whenever feasible, advise the subject’s representatives of your intentions. If all goes according to plan, you’ll get a green light to proceed, or potentially an offer to collaborate. It's a matter of common sense; if someone were to write a book about you, you would likely want to know about it well prior to publication. So, make a sincere effort to reach out to their PR staff to negotiate an agreement or at least a mutual understanding of the scope of your project. 

At the same time, make sure that you still retain editorial control over the project, and not end up writing a puff piece that treats its protagonist like a saint or hero. No biography can ever be entirely objective, but you should always strive for a portrayal that closely aligns with facts and reality.

If you can’t get an answer from your subject, or you’re asked not to proceed forward, you can still accept the potential repercussions and write an unauthorized biography . The “rebellious act” of publishing without consent indeed makes for great marketing, though it’ll likely bring more headaches with it too. 

✋ Please note that, like other nonfiction books, if you intend to release your biography with a publishing house , you can put together a book proposal to send to them before you even write the book. If they like it enough, they might pay you an advance to write it.  

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Once you’ve settled (or not) the permission part, it’s time to dive deep into your character’s story.  

Deep and thorough research skills are the cornerstone of every biographer worth their salt. To paint a vivid and accurate portrait of someone's life, you’ll have to gather qualitative information from a wide range of reliable sources. 

Start with the information already available, from books on your subject to archival documents, then collect new ones firsthand by interviewing people or traveling to locations. 

Browse the web and library archives

Illustration of a biographer going into research mode.

Put your researcher hat on and start consuming any piece on your subject you can find, from their Wikipedia page to news articles, interviews, TV and radio appearances, YouTube videos, podcasts, books, magazines, and any other media outlets they may have been featured in. 

Establish a system to orderly collect the information you find 一 even seemingly insignificant details can prove valuable during the writing process, so be sure to save them. 

Depending on their era, you may find most of the information readily available online, or you may need to search through university libraries for older references. 

Photo of Alexander Hamilton

For his landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow spent untold hours at Columbia University’s library , reading through the Hamilton family papers, visiting the New York Historical Society, as well as interviewing the archivist of the New York Stock Exchange, and so on. The research process took years, but it certainly paid off. Chernow discovered that Hamilton created the first five securities originally traded on Wall Street. This finding, among others, revealed his significant contributions to shaping the current American financial and political systems, a legacy previously often overshadowed by other founding fathers. Today Alexander Hamilton is one of the best-selling biographies of all time, and it has become a cultural phenomenon with its own dedicated musical. 

Besides reading documents about your subject, research can help you understand the world that your subject lived in. 

Try to understand their time and social environment

Many biographies show how their protagonists have had a profound impact on society through their philosophical, artistic, or scientific contributions. But at the same time, it’s worth it as a biographer to make an effort to understand how their societal and historical context influenced their life’s path and work.

An interesting example is Stephen Greenblatt’s Will in the World . Finding himself limited by a lack of verified detail surrounding William Shakespeare's personal life, Greenblatt, instead, employs literary interpretation and imaginative reenactments to transport readers back to the Elizabethan era. The result is a vivid (though speculative) depiction of the playwright's life, enriching our understanding of his world.

Painting of William Shakespeare in colors

Many readers enjoy biographies that transport them to a time and place, so exploring a historical period through the lens of a character can be entertaining in its own right. The Diary of Samuel Pepys became a classic not because people were enthralled by his life as an administrator, but rather from his meticulous and vivid documentation of everyday existence during the Restoration period.

Once you’ve gotten your hands on as many secondary sources as you can find, you’ll want to go hunting for stories first-hand from people who are (or were) close to your subject.

With all the material you’ve been through, by now you should already have a pretty good picture of your protagonist. But you’ll surely have some curiosities and missing dots in their character arc to figure out, which you can only get by interviewing primary sources.

Interview friends and associates

This part is more relevant if your subject is contemporary, and you can actually meet up or call with relatives, friends, colleagues, business partners, neighbors, or any other person related to them. 

In writing the popular biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson interviewed more than one hundred people, including Jobs’s family, colleagues, former college mates, business rivals, and the man himself.

🔍 Read other biographies to get a sense of what makes a great one. Check out our list of the 30 best biographies of all time , or take our 30-second quiz below for tips on which one you should read next. 

Which biography should you read next?

Discover the perfect biography for you. Takes 30 seconds!

When you conduct your interviews, make sure to record them with high quality audio you can revisit later. Then use tools like Otter.ai or Descript to transcribe them 一 it’ll save you countless hours. 

You can approach the interview with a specific set of questions, or follow your curiosity blindly, trying to uncover revealing stories and anecdotes about your subject. Whatever your method, author and biography editor Tom Bromley suggests that every interviewer arrives prepared, "Show that you’ve done your work. This will help to put the interviewee at ease, and get their best answers.” 

Bromley also places emphasis on the order in which you conduct interviews. “You may want to interview different members of the family or friends first, to get their perspective on something, and then go directly to the main interviewee. You'll be able to use that knowledge to ask sharper, more specific questions.” 

Finally, consider how much time you have with each interviewee. If you only have a 30-minute phone call with an important person, make it count by asking directly the most pressing questions you have. And, if you find a reliable source who is also particularly willing to help, conduct several interviews and ask them, if appropriate, to write a foreword as part of the book’s front matter .

Sometimes an important part of the process is packing your bags, getting on a plane, and personally visiting significant places in your character’s journey.

Visit significant places in their life

A place, whether that’s a city, a rural house, or a bodhi tree, can carry a particular energy that you can only truly experience by being there. In putting the pieces together about someone’s life, it may be useful to go visit where they grew up, or where other significant events of their lives happened. It will be easier to imagine what they experienced, and better tell their story. 

In researching The Lost City of Z , author David Grann embarked on a trek through the Amazon, retracing the steps of British explorer Percy Fawcett. This led Grann to develop new theories about the circumstances surrounding the explorer's disappearance.

Still from the movie The Lost City of Z in which the explorer is surrounded by an Amazon native tribe

Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with jaguars and anacondas to better understand your subject’s environment, but try to walk into their shoes as much as possible. 

Once you’ve researched your character enough, it’s time to put together all the puzzle pieces you collected so far. 

Take the bulk of notes, media, and other documents you’ve collected, and start to give them some order and structure. A simple way to do this is by creating a timeline. 

Create a chronological timeline

It helps to organize your notes chronologically 一 from childhood to the senior years, line up the most significant events of your subject’s life, including dates, places, names and other relevant bits. 

Timeline of Steve Jobs' career

You should be able to divide their life into distinct periods, each with their unique events and significance. Based on that, you can start drafting an outline of the narrative you want to create.  

Draft a story outline 

Since a biography entails writing about a person’s entire life, it will have a beginning, a middle, and an end. You can pick where you want to end the story, depending on how consequential the last years of your subject were. But the nature of the work will give you a starting character arc to work with. 

To outline the story then, you could turn to the popular Three-Act Structure , which divides the narrative in three main parts. In a nutshell, you’ll want to make sure to have the following:

  • Act 1. Setup : Introduce the protagonist's background and the turning points that set them on a path to achieve a goal. 
  • Act 2. Confrontation : Describe the challenges they encounter, both internal and external, and how they rise to them. Then..
  • Act 3. Resolution : Reach a climactic point in their story in which they succeed (or fail), showing how they (and the world around them) have changed as a result. 

Only one question remains before you begin writing: what will be the main focus of your biography?

Think about why you’re so drawn to your subject to dedicate years of your life to recounting their own. What aspect of their life do you want to highlight? Is it their evil nature, artistic genius, or visionary mindset? And what evidence have you got to back that up? Find a central thesis or focus to weave as the main thread throughout your narrative. 

Cover of Hitler and Stalin by Alan Bullock

Or find a unique angle

If you don’t have a particular theme to explore, finding a distinct angle on your subject’s story can also help you distinguish your work from other biographies or existing works on the same subject.

Plenty of biographies have been published about The Beatles 一 many of which have different focuses and approaches: 

  • Philip Norman's Shout is sometimes regarded as leaning more towards a pro-Lennon and anti-McCartney stance, offering insights into the band's inner dynamics. 
  • Ian McDonald's Revolution in the Head closely examines their music track by track, shifting the focus back to McCartney as a primary creative force. 
  • Craig Brown's One Two Three Four aims to capture their story through anecdotes, fan letters, diary entries, and interviews. 
  • Mark Lewisohn's monumental three-volume biography, Tune In , stands as a testament to over a decade of meticulous research, chronicling every intricate detail of the Beatles' journey.

Group picture of The Beatles

Finally, consider that biographies are often more than recounting the life of a person. Similar to how Dickens’ Great Expectations is not solely about a boy named Pip (but an examination and critique of Britain’s fickle, unforgiving class system), a biography should strive to illuminate a broader truth — be it social, political, or human — beyond the immediate subject of the book. 

Once you’ve identified your main focus or angle, it’s time to write a great story. 

Illustration of a writer mixing storytelling ingredients

While biographies are often highly informative, they do not have to be dry and purely expository in nature . You can play with storytelling elements to make it an engaging read. 

You could do that by thoroughly detailing the setting of the story , depicting the people involved in the story as fully-fledged characters , or using rising action and building to a climax when describing a particularly significant milestone of the subject’s life. 

One common way to make a biography interesting to read is starting on a strong foot…

Hook the reader from the start

Just because you're honoring your character's whole life doesn't mean you have to begin when they said their first word. Starting from the middle or end of their life can be more captivating as it introduces conflicts and stakes that shaped their journey.

When he wrote about Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild , author Jon Krakauer didn’t open his subject’s childhood and abusive family environment. Instead, the book begins with McCandless hitchhiking his way into the wilderness, and subsequently being discovered dead in an abandoned bus. By starting in medias res , Krakauer hooks the reader’s interest, before tracing back the causes and motivations that led McCandless to die alone in that bus in the first place.

Chris McCandless self-portrait in front of the now iconic bus

You can bend the timeline to improve the reader’s reading experience throughout the rest of the story too…

Play with flashback 

While biographies tend to follow a chronological narrative, you can use flashbacks to tell brief stories or anecdotes when appropriate. For example, if you were telling the story of footballer Lionel Messi, before the climax of winning the World Cup with Argentina, you could recall when he was just 13 years old, giving an interview to a local newspaper, expressing his lifelong dream of playing for the national team. 

Used sparsely and intentionally, flashbacks can add more context to the story and keep the narrative interesting. Just like including dialogue does…

Reimagine conversations

Recreating conversations that your subject had with people around them is another effective way to color the story. Dialogue helps the reader imagine the story like a movie, providing a deeper sensory experience. 

writing autobiography template

One thing is trying to articulate the root of Steve Jobs’ obsession with product design, another would be to quote his father , teaching him how to build a fence when he was young: “You've got to make the back of the fence just as good looking as the front of the fence. Even though nobody will see it, you will know. And that will show that you're dedicated to making something perfect.”

Unlike memoirs and autobiographies, in which the author tells the story from their personal viewpoint and enjoys greater freedom to recall conversations, biographies require a commitment to facts. So, when recreating dialogue, try to quote directly from reliable sources like personal diaries, emails, and text messages. You could also use your interview scripts as an alternative to dialogue. As Tom Bromley suggests, “If you talk with a good amount of people, you can try to tell the story from their perspective, interweaving different segments and quoting the interviewees directly.”

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These are just some of the story elements you can use to make your biography more compelling. Once you’ve finished your manuscript, it’s a good idea to ask for feedback. 

If you’re going to self-publish your biography, you’ll have to polish it to professional standards. After leaving your work to rest for a while, look at it with fresh eyes and self-edit your manuscript eliminating passive voice, filler words, and redundant adverbs. 

Illustration of an editor reviewing a manuscript

Then, have a professional editor give you a general assessment. They’ll look at the structure and shape of your manuscript and tell you which parts need to be expanded on or cut. As someone who edited and commissioned several biographies, Tom Bromley points out that a professional “will look at the sources used and assess whether they back up the points made, or if more are needed. They would also look for context, and whether or not more background information is needed for the reader to understand the story fully. And they might check your facts, too.”  

In addition to structural editing, you may want to have someone copy-edit and proofread your work.

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Importantly, make sure to include a bibliography with a list of all the interviews, documents, and sources used in the writing process. You’ll have to compile it according to a manual of style, but you can easily create one by using tools like EasyBib . Once the text is nicely polished and typeset in your writing software , you can prepare for the publication process.  

In conclusion, by mixing storytelling elements with diligent research, you’ll be able to breathe life into a powerful biography that immerses readers in another individual’s life experience. Whether that’ll spark inspiration or controversy, remember you could have an important role in shaping their legacy 一 and that’s something not to take lightly. 

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writing autobiography template

An Easy Autobiography Template Anyone Can Use

Are you looking for an autobiography template that will help you more easily write your life story? If so, you’re in the right place so long as you’re willing to think a little outside the box of what a “traditional” one looks like. A traditional autobiography has chapters, characters, an engaging storyline and is almost always very difficult to write. A “modern-day” autobiography has all of those elements except one – they’re incredibly easy to write and you will finish your life story at the end of your efforts – guaranteed.

What’s a modern-day autobiography?

In a nutshell, it’s an interview about your life. To write it, all you need to do is answer some questions.

Taking a quick step back, have a think about your favourite TV news anchor or talk show host. No matter who you think of, whether it’s Oprah Winfrey, Diane Sawyer or someone else, the one thing they have in common is that they interview guests. Interviews are both captivating to viewers as well as being the most practical way to get interesting and meaningful information from people. That’s true for a talk show host interviewing a celebrity or a news anchor interviewing an expert for a story. A good interview is the key to their popularity and success.

Part of why we find interviews so captivating to watch or read can be explained by basic psychology. As soon as we hear a question we want to know the answer. We can’t help it – our  mind wants to close the “curiosity gap” between what we already know and what we’d like to know.

Take a minute and answer these three questions:

  • What’s one memory from your childhood that makes you smile?
  • What’s the most valuable thing your parents taught you?
  • What do you think is the key to a successful relationship?

In answering the questions above, you’ll probably notice two things: firstly, an answer immediately pops into your head, and secondly, your answer is an honest and authentic reflection of who you are and the values you hold. Part of the magic of an interview is the way you answer a question says so much about who you are. Each answer is as unique as you are.

So what does all this mean for writing your own autobiography? To write a captivating and authentic life story you need an autobiography template with a series of questions that prompts you to discuss your life experiences and values.

This is the process we use at A Life Untold  to help people write and print captivating and professionally designed autobiographies in an easy and interesting way. Importantly, we leave the final book in “Q&A format” so anyone who reads your book feels like they’re listening in on an incredible conversation with you. There’s no major editing or rewriting – we want your voice to be heard.

Your autobiography template

While our full interview is over 100 questions, here are just 15 question prompts across different “life chapters” to get you started on the journey.

QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS

  • Name your favorite: Book, Movie, Musician, Quote, Animal, Word…
  • What’s the most valuable thing your parents taught you?
  • What did you love most about school?
  • Do you remember any fads from school?
  • Which of these words do you associate with your work: Love, Hate, Routine, Money or something else?
  • What’s something that you did at work that you’re proud of?
  • What’s the bravest thing you’ve done in the name of love?

FRIENDSHIPS

  • How would your close friends describe you?
  • What’s one quality you think is important in a friend?
  • What is one thing your children have taught you?
  • What was your proudest moment as a parent?

BIG QUESTIONS

  • If you could share a meal with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
  • What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
  • Don’t forget to include photos in your book. They really are worth 1,000 words!

Want more questions to answer? Turn your life story into a printed book with that your family and loved ones will treasure forever. Find out more about our process here .

2 simple steps, a lifetime of stories..

Record a loved one’s life story in a beautifully printed book. A truly meaningful gift for anyone special in your life.

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 / 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.

A COMPLETE UNIT ON TEACHING FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE

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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: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Write an Autobiography: A Step-by-Step Guide

Writing one's own biography may seem like an overwhelming task with uncertainties as to how or where to commence the process. While engaging a professional biographer might seem like an ideal solution; however not all possess sufficient funds for it.

Yet fear not for creating one's self-account has never been more achievable; given appropriate guidance offered within our guide here. It offers insightful tips on choosing the theme that resonates with your life's journey, implementing an effective outline, weaving-in captivating writing techniques, and refining your manuscript perfect to keep readers engaged till the very last page. With these guidelines in hand, anyone can tell their unique story in an inspiring and captivating manner.

Ask yourself why and for whom you're writing

Writing an autobiography invites readers on a personal journey through one's life experiences. To craft something impactful for others to enjoy - It starts by considering two fundamental elements: Why write such a memoir? And who should read it? Your motivation: What drives the desire to do so? Is it about providing guidance through lessons learned over time or sharing powerful experiences that have meaning for future generations? Identifying these underlying reasons serves as invaluable sources of inspiration when crafting your unique narrative.

Knowing WHO will primarily connect with these memories also provides powerful clues on storytelling tactics most likely resonate deeply with readership while still being true unto oneself. Whether personal reflections or narratives aimed at community groups - recognize this direction is crucial when telling someone's life story. To summarize; your autobiography provides readers with an intimate look into your personal narrative. To create something that resonates, reflect upon why you write the memoir, and who should read it to best connect with all who engage with it.

Choosing a Focus for Your Autobiography

Crafting an enthralling autobiography hinges on selecting a suitable focus. The initial step is to record names of influential people, places, or occasions that left an indelible impression in your life's tapestry. Such an exercise helps zero in on the overriding theme for your memoirs. Once you have identified the dominant motif within your story, concentrate on spotlighting significant events or transformative junctures which made you who you are presently- including not just wins but losses too as they add genuine depth and relatability to your narrative. By homing in on these critical points within your tale, readers can imbibe profound insights into how these incidents shaped who you are.

Decide on a theme

If sharing one's life story through written word is on the cards, identifying a theme truly makes for a more impactful read. Begin by pinpointing which values matter most at this stage of life—what challenges have been faced up until then? This clarifies things when connecting with potential audiences; then select autobiographical approaches that prompt reader engagement while maintaining originality as well as uniqueness down its plotline structure or core message--one way might be by showcasing success AND failings side-by-side throughout said journey within one dominating text format!

Structuring Your Autobiography

how-to-write-your-autobiography.jpg

To effectively share your story in an autobiography, it's crucial to determine which structure will work best - whether chronological or thematic - depending on what you're looking to convey as an author. A chronological structure follows events over time whereas using themes highlights specific ideas across various stages of life; both options require clear formatting for ease-of-reading continuity. Adding flashbacks and memories is an excellent way to provide additional depth while improving reader insight into pivotal personal experiences - make sure they seamlessly populate a relevant plotline without becoming excessively distracting.

Additionally, including historical and cultural context can deepen a story's overall meaning while painting a more immersive picture of the times covered in your narrative.

Start by brainstorming and outlining your life story, including significant events and turning points.

Set out writing an autobiography through introspection about notable moments in existence. Craft a catalogue of instances that molded the personage inherent within and ponder how they influenced thinking processes as well as behavioural patterns. These could encompass significant milestones such as graduation ceremonies from universities or wedding ceremonies alongside smaller instances like meeting people who leave lasting impressions or exploring unfamiliar locales. Ponder upon each circumstance carrying memories about how it affected emotional states and how these reverberate till today. Did any of them revolutionize perceptions of living? Or did they foster personal development by teaching valuable lessons? Weighing their consequences will enable selecting impactful anecdotes resulting in a narrative that grips reader attention.

Highlight your achievements and failures

Here's a fictional example :

My life has indeed been shaped by various incidents and people over time, leading up to moments of ultimate pride such as graduating from college with honors - an achievement marked by immense dedication and perseverance invested along the way.
Additionally, one particular milestone that stands out was embarking alone on a journey to Japan for the first time - an experience that taught me independence while boosting self-esteem. Whilst there have been many high points in life so far worth noting it would be remiss not to acknowledge some challenges faced head-on: one particularly tough chapter unfolded during senior year involving depression with each day proving more challenging than the last until finding solace through therapy-led progress towards recovery.
Furthermore, after graduation securing employment proved challenging due perhaps significantly less experience than employers much preferred. In hindsight, those hardships were vital experiences that offered powerful life lessons. Through it all, I learned the importance of persistence in challenging times and resilience that have willingly prepared me for future professional development as well as personal growth goals.

Free Outline

This will assist you in organizing your thoughts into the major sections of your book. These are as follows:

  • The difficulties you have overcome.
  • The lessons you've learned.
  • The people who had the greatest influence on you.
  • The most significant events and experiences in your life.
  • Your accomplishments and successes.

I find that asking myself specific questions while brainstorming helps to activate my imagination. So I've compiled a list of compelling questions to assist you in putting your thoughts on paper or on your screen.

  • The most significant accomplishments
  • The Worst Mistakes
  • The best moments
  • What event influenced your life?
  • Who influenced your life?
  • What places have had an impact on your life?
  • Worst instances
  • What have you discovered?
  • How have you evolved?

In each section, write three questions to be answered.

You've already done the bulk of the work. You've organized and outlined the major sections. Next on your autobiography to-do list is to select and write down three questions for each section. You can record your questions in the "boxes" provided for each section of the template outline (or on another piece of paper).This is simpler than it appears. Simply select one of the following sample autobiography questions or create your own: Questions allow you to write quickly and clearly.

  • What made me select this person/event?
  • What is this person/event significant to me?
  • How did I come across this person?
  • Where did it take place?
  • When did it occur?
  • What caused it to happen?
  • What caused it?
  • What is the most intriguing aspect?
  • What was my reaction to this person or event?
  • How do I feel right now?
  • Why is this person or event important to me?
  • How has this person or event influenced my life?
  • What is the most difficult part?
  • What went wrong?
  • How did I do it?
  • What did I discover?

Decide on a chronological or thematic structure

As you consider how best to shape your autobiography, it's vital to contemplate whether employing a chronological or thematic structure will better suit your aims. Are you motivated by the desire to preserve a record of your existence for posterity's sake or do you hope to excite and inspire readers with an enthralling account?

Depending on what drives you, one approach may be more effective than another; using chronological sequencing could provide readers with comprehensive insight into events over time while focusing on key themes can emphasize their importance throughout our lives. Deliberating about what life experiences have had substantial effects or have transformed us is essential when deciding on the scope of our stories - these experiences serve as key anchors in both types of structures. Additionally worth pondering are how such themes are connected culturally or historically which amplifies their significance within our narratives- adding depth which enriches any approach we choose.

Use flashbacks and memories to add depth

In creating a memoir about yourself, be thoughtful about selecting flashbacks or memories that contributed to who you become. An impactful moment may define certain aspects of your character or changed the course of your life experiences; aim for those types of memories when writing autobiographically.Use blended tenses between the present and past when narrating flashback scenes creates an effect that positions readers within those poignant moments alongside you.By describing each scene vividly ,you make it all easier for readers to visualize,the more immersive story-telling becomes.

Weave in relevant historical and cultural context

Autobiographies are not just mere chronicles detailing one's personal experiences; they act as mirrors reflecting back the society we inhabit in its various stages. To give depth to your memoirs, weaving significant historical events that took place during your lifetime could help ground readers about the choices you made along the way. It would be prudent when incorporating personal stories into wider societal changes to mention political, social and economic factors that impacted you directly since this gives texture to these pivotal moments in life.

Furthermore highlighting distinctive cultural influences like art forms such as music or literature adds another dimension highlighting how they shape one's identity, or even how religious traditions passed down from one generation to another brought their own transformative impact. Bringing together these different contexts into your narrative would allow readers a more profound insight into what inspired and influenced some of the most momentous times in your life.

Writing Techniques to Engage Your Readers

Writing an autobiography might cause some trepidation – after all, sharing personal stories can expose vulnerabilities- nonetheless it’s this emotional honesty that makes an inspiring read: one that imparts valuable lessons and memories upon its audience . Fortunately it does not have to be difficult ! By following some guiding principles, this task can become an engrossing journey that leaves both the author and audience fulfilled. In crafting a remarkable memoir , we offer a few suggestions: firstly, captivate readers through rich imagery created through descriptive language consisting of adjectives or metaphors that evoke characterizations of people , places , or events so vivid they seem tangible .

Additionally , prioritizing dialogue or actions over reciting emotions as they occur ‘flatly’ enables emotional engagement amongst readers as if they are experiencing life alongside the author's memories . Creating brilliantly depicted characters acts as integral piece of enhancing reader investment in the narrative . Try including distinct personalities for each primary character even if covering many members connected with shared/family stories this offers perspective from various viewpoints combining into an unforgettable cast capturing reader attention until all chapters have been perused.

Use colorful and descriptive language

It's important to remember that when telling our personal stories through an autobiography, the choice of words we use plays an instrumental role in driving our message across effectively. Captivating our audience requires us to select dynamic vocabulary choices filled with rich descriptions; using intense adjectives that illuminate key moments while using sensory details allowing us as storytellers to transport our audience right into these moments in time as we present them with figurative language like similes or metaphors - giving deeper meaning behind each experience shared.Here are some tips for making your autobiography more vivid:

  • Choose strong adjectives that evoke emotions: Instead of saying "I had a nice time," try "I had an exhilarating experience" or "I felt euphoric."
  • Use sensory details: Bring the reader into the moment by describing sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. For example: "The salty ocean breeze whipped through my hair as I gazed out at the endless expanse of turquoise sea."By utilizing these techniques and others like them throughout your autobiography, you can create an immersive reading experience that will captivate any reader from beginning to end.
  • Incorporate metaphors or similes: These figures of speech create memorable comparisons that add depth to your writing. For instance: "My heart was like a wildfire burning out of control" or "His laughter bubbled up like champagne."

By utilizing these techniques and others like them throughout your autobiography, you can create an immersive reading experience that will captivate any reader from beginning to end.

Show, don't tell

Crafting an autobiography that really captures the attention of readers requires utilizing the "show not tell" approach as one of its critical techniques.Specific examples which emphasize your point give the reader something tangible which make them interested.Integrating illustrations clearly displaying personality attributes throughout along with plainly presenting character’s conversations give extra dimensions making for insightful reading.

Trying out elaboration of physical responses in place of direct representation insinuate emotional experience providing room for stronger connections.Characterization is accomplished by employing colorful and descriptive language.Your account will effectively hold the interest if you focus on these core elements throughout its development process.

Create vivid characters, including yourself

Make your characters memorable and captivating by using descriptive language that brings them to life. Give each character unique traits that readers will remember, like twirling hair or pen chewing. It’s crucial to let the reader into every character’s motivations so they can see a fully realized person come off the page. This technique applies whether you are writing an autobiography or not.

Editing and Polishing Your Autobiography

One of the primary stages of crafting a compelling autobiography is thoroughly refining and editing one's work. It's essential to allow for some time away from writing once you've finished drafting it before delving into the editing process for fresh perspective. When you receive feedback from others concerning ways to enhance your autobiography during revision, it can be greatly beneficial.

Enlisting loved ones or close associations as beta readers might enable them to give their constructive criticism without feeling personally attacked by utilizing tactful language that highlights areas for potential growth.

It's also crucial while going over each page repeatedly during revisions always making sure there is logical continuity between dates, facts and names throughout each chapter so readers can make sense of everything smoothly progressing towards clarity about the unique path of yours.

Take a break before editing

Before beginning to edit your autobiography, it is essential to take some time away from it so that when you come back to it after refreshing yourself fully, giving yourself plenty of time away- whether through immersing oneself in nature where possible like walking along trails outside; sitting down quietly reading an inspiring book; spending time conversationally engaged over lunch meetings amongst friends– there will be much tussle for revising worthy additions once more review!When you do come back to your writing, try these tips:

  • Read through the entire manuscript without making any changes.Take notes on areas that need improvement or clarification.
  • Pay attention to consistency of style and voice throughout.

By taking breaks before editing, you'll find it easier to spot errors and create an engaging story that captivates your readers.

Get feedback from others

Jotting down memories about one's life journey feels overwhelming at first glance yet becomes an effortless process once supportive resources are found promptly. To begin drafting meaningful stories that will resonate with readers worldwide, reach out to dependable friends or family who can offer helpful feedback and unbiased critique of the narrative. Constructive criticism ensures that the memoir's ending leaves a lasting impression.

Alternatively, consider joining a writers' group like-minded peers who could explore how your story resonates while providing objective feedback. Sharing parts of your story with this community extends support, helps distil complex concepts and guarantees an efficient delivery.

Finally, writers seeking professional input from an editor or proofreader may benefit from insight into structuring their manuscript for maximum impact. Attention to detail on matters like coherence, flow and grammar helps identify areas of synchronicities across the narrative thread. These steps ensure filling more pages with captivating life experiences that impact and leave a lasting mark on readers.

Check for consistency and accuracy

Making sure that your autobiography is consistent and accurate throughout the entire book is crucial to keeping your readers engaged. Small discrepancies can cause confusion or distract from the overall story. Here are a few things to keep in mind when checking for consistency and accuracy:

  • Double-check all names, dates, and factual information mentioned in the text.Ensure that there is consistency in tone, style, and language used throughout the book.
  • Verify any quotes or references mentioned in your story.

By taking these steps to review your work thoroughly, you can feel confident that you have created a compelling autobiography that accurately reflects your life experiences.

⚠️ What Not To Include In an Autobiography

Crafting an autobiography should be approached with caution as not every detail needs mentioning. Though there may be a desire to share everything, some details are better left unsaid. When writing one's memoirs, consider what should be left aside such as:

  • Confidential Information - Though it is acceptable to mention notable persons,is is always advisable not to disclose sensitive information concerning them without their consent.
  • Negative experiences or individuals - You must mandate acknowledging rather than overemphasizing difficult moments as this could distort public perception leading it away from gaining proper meaning clarity.  Instead focus on positive things in order for others to draw inspiration from and how you triumphed over adversity.
  • Sensitive or Controversial issues – While honesty is essential while writing an autobiography, considering any possible repercussions might due care need surrendering some of oneself up willingly giving way for sensitivity intervals where appropriate expressing respect for others who come after us who seek knowledge about our past experiences but also preserving dignity .
  • Irrelevant material- Making sure that your autobiography only includes information relevant to the overall narrative is essential. Be precise, direct and concise so that readers can engage well with your story. Anything deemed redundant is better left out.

By providing the best of all worlds in terms of clarity, readability and relevance, an impactful and memorable autobiography can be published that strikes a balance between being engaging while highlighting one's personal journey without deviating unnecessarily off-topic at any point. Remember to leave out anything irrelevant and emphasize only positive aspects while holding caution before sharing any sensitive or controversial storylines or sentiments embedded within your personal account of life experiences at large.

5 autobiographies to read for inspiration

The following are five remarkable autobiographies that describe the experiences and journeys of influential individuals:

  • "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" by Malcolm X and Alex Haley is a profound memoir about the life of a civil rights activist who emerged as one of the most influential figures in the African American community after being imprisoned for his beliefs.
  • "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou is a powerful autobiographical account of her childhood in the American South during 1930s and 1940s. Angelou shares her experiences growing up and how they shaped her later life as an accomplished writer and activist.
  • Trevor Noah's autobiography, "Born a Crime," tells his personal story growing up in apartheid-era South Africa. He candidly narrates his challenges as being a son born from different races – white Swiss father and black Xhosa mother.
  • In "Bossypants," Tina Fey presents an intriguing look at her life journey, from childhood in Pennsylvania to becoming an acclaimed writer and performer on shows like "Saturday Night Live" and "30 Rock." Her autobiography is not just humorous but also insightful.
  • In Jeannette Walls' memoir, "The Glass Castle," she narrated her unconventional upbringing by parents who struggled with poverty and addiction while moving frequently with their family around America's Southwest region.

Writing your autobiography requires a fair amount of preparation, thought, and effort. Much like writing any book. And for many, it is indeed their first one. While many start this work, few make it to the end. That's why we developed life-story.ai: to assist you in this task and to greatly facilitate this work.

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writing autobiography template

How to write an autobiography: 7 key steps

Many people who’ve lived interesting lives want to learn how to write an autobiography. Whether you want to write a memoir or a fictional autobiography, these 7 steps will help you start:

  • Post author By Jordan
  • 4 Comments on How to write an autobiography: 7 key steps

writing autobiography template

What is autobiography?

Autobiography means to write about yourself, typically the account of significant events in your life. The word stems from the Greek, αὐτός (autos) meaning self , plus βίος (bios) meaning life and γράφειν ( graphein ) – to write.

Autobiography vs memoir: What’s the difference?

What’s the difference between autobiography and memoir? Are there specific kinds of autobiography? These may be questions you ask as you set out to write your life story.

As Ian Jack writes in The Guardian , there are differences between autobiography vs memoir although the terms are often used interchangeably:

An autobiography is usually a record of accomplishment. All kinds of people, more or less famous, can write them or be helped to write them: footballers, politicians, newsreaders. Deeds, fame and an interesting life are not necessary ingredients of the memoir. The memoir’s ambition is to be interesting in itself, as a novel might be, about intimate, personal experience. It often aspires to be thought of as “literary”, and for that reason borrows many of literature’s tricks – the tricks of the novel, of fiction – because it wants to do more than record the past; it wants to re-create it. If a memoir is to succeed on those terms, on the grounds that all lives are interesting if well-enough realised, the writing has to be good. Ian Jack, in The Guardian , February 2003.

7 steps to write your own life story:

  • Brainstorm your autobiography’s focus and scope
  • Skim autobiographies for inspiration
  • Choose between autobiography and memoir
  • Outline key and illustrative life events
  • Draft key scenes from your life
  • Find strong transitions
  • Check details and get beta readers

1. Brainstorm your autobiography’s focus and scope

Deciding what period and events you’ll cover in your life story is a helpful first step in choosing how to write an autobiography.

Squishing the intrigues, heartbreaks, surprises and secrets of your life into narrative form may seem an impossible task. Life of course does not unfold in neat paragraphs, scenes and chapters.

Make it easier and brainstorm your autobiography’s focus and scope. Ask:

  • What period of my life do I want to tell readers about?
  • Where should the timeline start? (Infancy? Childhood? Adolescence?)
  • What are key events of my life readers may find intriguing?

This will help you refine your autobiography’s focus [you can also pinpoint your story’s focus in the Central Idea brainstorming tool in the Now Novel dashboard].

For deciding your story’s scope, ask:

  • What essential scenes and events should I include?
  • What themes or subjects need mention (for example, if you have experienced a trauma or illness that has greatly impacted your life, exploring personal events and insights that resulted from them would make sense)

Autobiography Exercise: Scenes to show

Write a brief bullet list of events to include in your autobiography or memoir.

Focus on events that show strong emotion, key turning points or changes, or vivid life lessons , because these connect with readers.

For example:

  • A first encounter with someone who turned out to be an amazing mentor
  • A positive or challenging move to another school, city or country in childhood
  • The first time you met a major love interest in your life
  • The moment you walked away from a job or other commitment to pursue a new dream

How to write an autobiography - infographic | Now Novel

2. Skim autobiographies for inspiration

One of the best ways to learn how to write an autobiography is, of course, to read published examples.

Get hold of copies of autobiographies that interest you . Skim parts such as the beginning and end, chapter beginnings and endings. Read for details that leap out at you, grab your attention.

Take notes on how the author approaches telling their life story. Do they:

  • Proceed chronologically from childhood to adulthood or play with time and memories?
  • Start with a dramatic, life-changing incident or lead in slowly?
  • Tell the reader what they’re going to cover or leave the reader to gradually discover the narrative structure or shape of the story?

Reading autobiography and note-taking in this way helps you see the options for how to structure your narrative.

3. Choose between autobiography and memoir

Reading autobiography examples will help you see how authors use common narrative elements.

For example, the acclaimed author Vladimir Nabokov begins Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited :

The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. […] I know, however, of a young chronophobiac who experienced something like panic when looking for the first time at homemade movies that had been taken a few weeks before his birth. Vladimir Nabokov, Speak Memory : An Autobiography Revisted (1967), 17.

Nabokov, in typically ornate fashion, breaks the ‘rules’ of autobiography. He uses third person to describe a ‘ young chronophobiac’ – one who is afraid of time. We can guess this ‘young chronophobiac’ is Nabokov himself, and that he is using a tone of ironic detachment to imply that the act of dredging through memories – or even the idea of time itself – fills him with ‘something like panic’.

The above seems more like a literary play with form (an attribute Ian Jack ascribes memoir) than a straightforward, chronological autobiography.

Readers might indeed wonder why Nabokov calls Speak, Memory an autobiography.

Nabokov does, however, proceed more or less chronologically, from before his birth, to Chapter 2 which begins:

It was the primordial cave (and not what Freudian mystics might suppose) that lay behind the games I played when I was four. Nabokov, Speak, Memory , p. 20.

Thus Nabokov blends elements of memoir. He blends illustrative snapshots of life (the part illuminating the whole) with key events (birth, childhood) typical of autobiographical narration.

Thinking about how you’ll structure your life story , however, will make it more purposeful and consistent.

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4. Outline key and illustrative life events

In deciding how to write an autobiography, there are two types of events to include:

  • Key events – Crucial, formative experiences, for example an early childhood triumph or loss that shaped your view of the world.
  • Illustrative events – Individual encounters, lessons, romances, teachers and mentors that provide texture, background, humour, drama or the other vital elements of storytelling .

Examples of key events and illustrative events in autobiography

As an example, Nabokov uses the games he would play as a child at the start of chapter two to illustrate how he came to value imagination and beauty . He describes making a couch tent:

I then had the fantastic pleasure of creeping through that pitch-dark tunnel, where I lingered a little to listen to the singing in my ears – that lonesome vibration so familiar to small boys in dusty hiding places – and then, in a burst of delicious panic, on rapidly thudding hands and knees I would reach the tunnel’s far end…’ Nabokov, Speak, Memory , p. 20.

This is an example of illustrative event: a scene in autobiography that reveals something about the author.

In this case, we see Nabokov’s love of games of imagination and sensory stimulation (something one finds abundant in his fiction).

An example of a key event would be a major relocation, a historical conflict (such as war), or another key turning point. For example, Nabokov describes the effects of the Russo-Japanese War (a key event) in 1905 on the family unit:

The close of Russia’s disastrous campaign in the Far East was accompanied by furious internal disorders. Undaunted by them, my mother, with her three children, returned to St. Petersburg after almost a year of foreign resorts. Nabokov, Speak, Memory , p. 24.

Autobiography exercise: Finding key and illustrative events

Write a bullet list each of key and illustrative events – a sentence describing each. Examples:

  • The year my family moved from Country A to Country B
  • The first time I held a violin in my hands
  • The first close friendship I ever made at school

Illustrative Events

  • The experience and emotion of boarding a plane for the first time
  • A specific funny or insightful violin lesson or teacher
  • A day with a close school friend that left an indelible impression

Autobiography and art - Fellini quote | Now Novel

5. Draft key scenes from your life

Now that you have ideas for key and illustrative events in your life, expand on an example.

Use the techniques of fiction to enrich the scene.

For example, Nabokov describes his sensory impressions behind the family couch.

  • Impressions of sound, smell, touch, taste or specific visual details
  • Emotions (Nabokov conveys a palpable sense of the child’s simultaneous delight in secrecy and panic in the dark when he describes crawling through the tunnel he made using the family couch)

As you draft, keep this in mind: What do I want to tell, show, teach? How will this help, entertain, surprise, amuse my reader?

6. Find strong transitions

Learning how to write an autobiography is not that different from learning how to write fiction.

For one, autobiographical writing and fiction writing both need engaging introductions, transitions, exposition and development.

An advantage of memoir and autobiography is that transition is a shared, relatable part of life.

For example, most children in countries where school attendance is required by law will leave the family unit and go out into the world at a similar age.

These key life changes are useful places in a memoir or autobiography for chapter breaks or scene transitions . Nabokov, for example, uses the family move to St Petersburg at the start of Chapter 4 to transition into describing his first teacher, a natural early childhood memory to include:

With a sharp and merry blast from the whistle that was part of my first sailor suit, my childhood calls me back into that distant past to have me shake hands again with my delightful teacher. Vasiliy Martinovich Zhernosekov had a fuzzy brown beard, a balding head, and china-blue eyes, one of which bore a fascinating excrescence on the upper lid. Nabokob, Speak, Memory , p. 24.

Note how Nabokov signals the narrative transition – by describing a sound he associates with that period of his life. It’s a vivid, descriptive way to end one section of story and begin another.

7. Check details and get beta readers

As you write an autobiography or memoir, it’s often helpful to speak to family or old friends. Because you never know who may remember a funny, interesting or surprising detail about a time you are remembering and trying to capture.

The people who know you best may be your best beta readers when you write about yourself. It’s also good etiquette, if writing about a family member or friend who is still living, to run sections concerning them past them.

Need someone to read over your autobiography so far? Get help from a skilled editor. Jump to Top

Related Posts:

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  • Tags autobiographical writing

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Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

4 replies on “How to write an autobiography: 7 key steps”

Just starting to write a family history beginning with what I know about my immigrant grandparents, then with a follow-up through moves and my childhood.

Hi Peter, that sounds a wonderful use of family history. I hope it is going well.

Very helpful.

Glad you found it helpful, Sally. Thanks for writing in.

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  • How To Write An Autobiography Guideline And Useful Advice

June 21, 2023

Many people want to know how to write an autobiography to take their place in history or make a mark. This writing helps you list life’s essential milestones, moments, places, and people. It enables you to use your voice to share your story. This article defines an autobiography while explaining how to write it. Also, it shares practical tips for writing a good autobiography. It’s essential because many educators assign students this task, yet most needs help writing an autobiography.

how to write an autobiography

Table of Contents

  • What Is An Autobiography?

What Is The Goal Of An Autobiography?

What to include in an autobiography, how to start an autobiography, how to write a good autobiography of yourself, sample autobiography template, tips on writing an autobiography, what is an autobiography.

An autobiography is a narration by the author depicting their life story chronologically. An autobiography can fall under any of these categories, depending on the purpose:

  • Autobiographical College Essay Some institutions require students to submit an educational autobiography with their college application. It enables students to present themselves to the admission officers while persuading them to accept them into their institutions.
  • Personal Essay A personal essay is a short autobiography. It’s a self-portrait essay that is more emotional and personal, sharing the author’s experiences. Typically, this essay focuses on a specific period, event, or individual. It’s a common assignment in high school and college.
  • Memoir A memoir is an autobiography that doesn’t necessarily cover the writer’s life. It focuses on the most significant and exciting past events, covering as much information as possible.

Comprehensive autobiographies are lengthy and through accounts of the authors’ lives. They cover everything from birth to the current moments.

An autobiography gives a firsthand account of the writer’s life. It provides a higher intimacy level for the readers. This writing can serve the following purposes:

Convey the writer’s life story to a significant audience Help the author leave a mark Reconcile the author’s past Preserve the author’s memories

The primary purpose of an autobiography is to portray the writer’s achievements and experiences. That’s why most people write autobiographies later in life to give firsthand accounts describing their stories.

The first question many ask when planning to write an autobiography is what to include in their composition. And this concern is vital since you must know what to put in a autobiography and what to avoid including in your life story. For instance, you can only focus on some details or every people you’ve met. Otherwise, you will make the autobiography longer than necessary. Here’s a breakdown of what to write about in an autobiography.

  • Significant events: You may include important life events, including your origin, life lessons, life-turning points, vacations, and graduations.
  • Milestones: Talk about your successes and achievements in life.
  • Vital people: Talk about family, friends, coaches, mentors, teachers, and business partners. Share information about the people that affected you the most.
  • Emotional moments: Share details of the challenges you’ve faced when you faced a life-threatening illness, when you were struggling financially, and when you met your spouse.
  • Suspense and drama: How did you feel when your first baby was born? Did you go through surgery? Did you secure admission to your dream college?

Consider a movie trailer when planning, organizing, and writing an autobiography. You can include highly emotional moments and significant events or major characters.

Since an autobiography describes a person’s story, it should start with their origin, including family members, hometown, and educational background. However, ensure you only include relevant details in your story. Here’s a breakdown of the autobiography writing process.

Starting an autobiography involves selecting or creating a compelling title. So, avoid generic phrases and create an engaging heading for the story. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Read Well-Known Autobiographies Many prominent people, including successful artists, business people, politicians, and writers, have written autobiographies. You can read autobiographies of inspiring personalities to get the basics of autobiographical writing.
  • Think about Your Life Remember unusual experiences, significant events, and essential people in your life. Please consider your life and the worthy moments to include in the autobiography. You can talk to people who know some of the outstanding things you’ve done.
  • Make a List Making a list is vital when writing your autobiography. The list should categorize your memories to enable you to structure thoughts logically. Making this list can be challenging for adults with active lifestyles. Nevertheless, focus on events and individuals your readers will find interesting.
  • What was the worst or best part of a person or event you want to talk about in your autobiography?
  • What information should you share with your readers?
  • What feelings or moods do you want your readers to get when or after reading your autobiography?
  • How did that particular event change your life?
  • What lessons did somebody or an event teach you?
  • What made a specific event or moment important in your life?
  • Why did you choose to share this particular event with the readers?
  • Why is now the best moment to write the autobiography?

Planning is vital when writing an autobiography. Therefore, think carefully about various aspects of the people in your life before writing it.

To make your life story fascinating, understand the autobiography structure before you start writing. Here are the primary sections to add to your autobiography.

  • Introduce your title to the readers
  • Present your core ideas
  • Capture the readers’ attention
  • Transparent: Make following and understanding the text easy for the readers.
  • Well-structured: Focus every paragraph on a particular period, time, or event.
  • Logical: Ensure you present facts logically with smooth transitions from one section to the next.
  • Conclusion Your autobiography conclusion should leave a lasting impression since the introduction made the readers interested in reading it. In this section, assess your life and the lessons you have learned. Also, tell your readers how the life lessons helped you. Nevertheless, ensure your conclusion is concise and clear.

Writing an autobiography outline is vital when planning how to complete this task. Here’s a sample template for writing an autobiography.

“This autobiography explains how a man overcame homelessness and depression to excel in the corporate world.”
“I was born in Africa during the great recession.”
“I had a busy father because my grandparents taught him that only hard work could keep him alive.”
  • The beginning: This should have an introduction, history, and settings.
  • Middle: Include this section’s main events, highlights, and conflict.
  • End: Have the main thoughts, reflections, and ending remarks in this section.

how to write an autobiography

Whether you want to write an autobiography essay or an autobiographical book, you will find the following tips helpful when completing this task.

  • Write Chronologically Ensure your story follows a chronological order to make the task more manageable. That way, you will focus on each season after the other rather than jump around. Also, it creates a natural flow for the story, making reading a smooth experience.
  • Describe Memories Your story may only include a few action scenes. However, detailed descriptions can spark the readers’ imaginations. Therefore, be creative when describing personal memories. And you can capture the human senses with your illustrations. For instance, you can tell readers about the taste of food, the smell of coffee, or the sound of someone’s voice. Sensory writing enables you to establish colorful expressions even when describing something simple.
  • Hook Readers with the Introduction Engaging your readers from the beginning is vital when writing an autobiography. Therefore, aim to convince your readers that your autobiography is worth reading and distinctive. You can play on their curiosity or nostalgia to ensure they continue reading.
  • Include Real Names of Events and People The writer’s autobiography should include real names of places, people, and events. Disclosing real names enables the readers to connect more with your story since it makes it richer. It gives the autobiography authenticity. If you’ve forgotten an event or a person’s name, describe them in your text. However, mention only relevant events and people.
“It was getting dark, and I was cold.”

You can say:

“It was around 9 pm when I waited for him to arrive by the beautiful church on Christmas Eve. There were no stars or the moon that night. I could only see a street lamp about three blocks away.”
  • Include Reflections Reflections enable the author to be honest about various things in life. That’s why some autobiographies give them more gravity than the stories. Here, you can express your joys, frustrations, and feelings about various aspects of life. But that doesn’t mean explaining how you thought or felt about everything. Instead, you may limit the reflections to the most significant events only. Also, ensure readers get the primary takeaway from the autobiography through your examinations. For instance, what lessons or insights did you learn from the events? That way, you can drive the points home, and readers will love to know them too.
  • Find Your Unique Voice A personal voice is vital when writing your life’s story. Ensure you use a tone you’re comfortable with or compose mini-drafts in various approaches to find one that suits you. Finding a unique voice early ensures a consistent style for the entire autobiography. Also, it eliminates the need to edit the whole autobiography.
  • Use Images You can use images to emphasize your story’s season. When your autobiography has more photos, it becomes more colorful. Also, you can use pictures to break up text blocks or provide a visual texture to the autobiography. However, insert only meaningful photos with sentimental value.
  • Make it Short Consider your readers, who could be your professor, a scholarship committee judge, or an admission officer. These people are busy with hundreds or thousands of autobiographies to read. Therefore, ensure only vital details go into your autobiography. If you want to ensure your autobiography is of the correct length, ask your impatient friend to read it. They will provide an honest opinion since they prefer reading short articles to long stories or books.
  • Avoid Making It a Personal Diary Your autobiography should be candid, revealing, and precisely honest. Also, describe your life’s hardships to show how you overcame them and their influence on you. However, write the things you feel calm discussing. For instance, if students made fun of you in college and you feel like killing them, you may avoid the topic. That’s because your feelings could leak into the text and make readers subconsciously uncomfortable.

Use a Custom Writing Service

Do you need help writing an autobiography? If so, you can hire our  customized term papers experts online. Our professional writers have helped many students write winning autobiographies. If your teacher assigned you an autobiography assignment and you need help from a native English speaker to excel in your course, we can assist you.

We deliver top-quality written assignments to learners at all educational levels. Whether in high school or university, we can write an autobiography to help you become the best student in your class. Our services are cheap, and we can even help you generate ideas for the text. Moreover, we can help you beat the submission deadline, no matter the urgency of your assignment. Please get in touch with us to order your autobiography. We will gladly help you write a winning autobiography paper!

How do I start writing an autobiography?

Start by gathering as many facts and details about your life as possible to help readers understand what has been happening. Next, please choose a topic, introduce it to the readers, and discuss the prominent people and events in the body. End the autobiography with a conclusion wrapping up everything.

Is there a specific format for an autobiography?

No. Most autobiographies use the same format as traditional personal memoirs, graphic novels, dramas, vignettes, and scripts. Therefore, choose a format that works best for you, depending on the length, scope, and what the autobiography is meant for. You might be writing it as a scholarship application, for which you can get a scholarship essay writing service any time!

How long should an autobiography be?

No specific lengths or rules about an autobiography’s word count or size exist. However, most autobiographies range between 250 and 450 pages. If you’re writing an educational autobiography, your teacher or institution may specify the length. If not, ensure your autobiography is sufficiently long to cover your life’s vital details.

What topics should I include in an autobiography?

Your autobiography should include only vital topics. For instance, cover things like your place and time of birth, your personality overview, and something you like and dislike. Also, explain special events that have helped shape your life and the lessons they taught you.

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How To Write An Autobiography

Autobiography Format

Barbara P

Simple Autobiography Format for Students to Follow

Autobiography Format

People also read

Learn How to Write an Autobiography Step by Step

Basic Types of Autobiography Writing With Examples

Autobiography vs. Biography vs. Memoirs: The Differences & Similarities

11+ Autobiography Examples: A Detailed Guide

Autobiography vs. Memoir - Differences & Similarities

How to Write a Memoir: Everything You Need to Know

An autobiography is a self-written life story that offers a great level of intimacy to readers.

Writing an autobiography  is not a big deal if you are aware of the writing routine and have a format outline in hand.

There is no set pattern for writing an autobiography. Your story can take any form or structure as long as it is expressive and informative. However, you have to make an outline and choose one of the many possible writing styles.

In this blog, we will discuss a basic autobiography format that you can follow to get your story out into the world.

Arrow Down

  • 1. Types of Autobiography Formats
  • 2. Components of an Autobiography Format
  • 3. Autobiography Format Sample

Types of Autobiography Formats

There are many  types of autobiography styles that you can choose for writing about yourself. Let’s take a look at the most common autobiography formats that can help you get started.

Traditional Autobiography

It covers the person’s life from birth to the present time. These are in the form of complete books with several chapters, each recounting a specific phase of the writer’s life.

Famous examples include “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” and “The Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela.

This format of autobiography focuses on certain moments or themes in a person’s life, such as philosophical, historical, religious, etc.

The main difference between autobiography vs. memoir is that an autobiography covers the writer’s whole life, whereas a memoir shares a specific personal memory. “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank is an example of a famous memoir.

Personal Narratives

It is more narrow type of writing than a memoir. Simply put, it is just an essay about yourself. As a rule of thumb, it focuses on one moment at a time and expands the experience through dialogues. This is the most common type of assignment in high school and colleges.

These are short chapters that cover one specific event at a time. It focuses on a brief description, account, or episode.

A collection of vignettes can be published as a complete piece of work. However, each chapter in the collection does not necessarily relate to the other.

Graphic Novels

A unique genre in which drawings and cartoon panels are used to convey a true story. This form of writing is accompanied by drawn scenes and depictions from the author’s life.

Drama or Scripts

This is a form in which one can explore autobiographical topics through dialogues in film or on a stage.

However, presenting your life through a drama or script sometimes requires you to add a few fictional elements. That’s why such works claim to be “based on a true story” rather than depicting true events as they happened.

Remember, the most accepted autobiography format is chronological. This means writing about the life story in the order in which it happened.

Components of an Autobiography Format

Writing an autobiography is an easy task if you plan ahead and have a format outline in hand. Here is a proper autobiography format for students.

Write the title of your work at the top of your page in bold font. Remember, you can come back and change your title at any time. You might come up with the perfect title at the end of the writing process.

Here are some tips to help you choose the best title for your autobiography:

  • Reflect on Themes: Consider the overarching themes or key moments in your life. What aspects do you want to highlight? Family, career, personal growth, overcoming challenges, etc. Use these themes as inspiration.
  • Emotional Impact: Think about the emotions you want to evoke in your readers. Whether it's joy, resilience, inspiration, or introspection, a title that resonates emotionally can make your autobiography more memorable.
  • Be Authentic: Choose a title that authentically represents your story. Avoid sensationalizing or misleading titles; instead, opt for one that reflects your true experiences and personality.
  • Memorable Phrases: Look through your autobiography for any memorable phrases, quotes, or expressions that capture the essence of your journey. These can serve as a great foundation for your title.

2. Dedication

Write about the person to whom you would like to dedicate your work. Better leave this part until last, as working through your autobiography will trigger many memories. So you might dedicate your work to more than one person.

3. Table of Contents

Once you are done with the writing, compile your table of contents as it will help the readers to easily navigate.

4. Acknowledgments

This is the section where you need to thank everyone who has helped you in composing your autobiography from start to end. Show your gratitude and appreciation in a few beautiful and inspirational lines.

5. Foreword

Here you need to jot down all the reasons for writing the autobiography. Discuss the purpose of writing it and what you want to achieve from it. A good approach is to include brief thoughts in this section, as it will help you stay focused throughout the writing process.

6. Introduction

Start your autobiography with an attention-grabbing introduction to pique your readers’ interest from the start and keep them reading until the end. This part should be clear, concise and to the point.

7. Body Section

Create a series of headings and subheadings in your autobiography format outline. Write your autobiography based on chronological events. Link all the information in an interesting story format. Include relevant material under each section, such as dates, experiences, etc.

8. Conclusion

Present your final thoughts in the end. Look back on your work and think about what you have learned from the experience and how it has changed you. Tie up all the information in an interesting manner for a perfect ending.

9. Memorabilia

The “memorabilia'' at the end of autobiographies generally refers to additional material or documents such as pictures, medals, letters, etc. These are meant to highlight some special moments, include some memorabilia 

You can include elements such as:

  • Photographs: A collection of personal photographs featuring the author, family members, friends, and significant events in the author's life.
  • Documents: Reproductions of important documents, letters, or handwritten notes that hold significance in the author's story.
  • Artifacts: In some cases, authors may include images or descriptions of physical items, objects, or artifacts that have personal meaning to them.
  • Timeline: A chronological timeline summarizing key events in the author's life, which can serve as a quick reference for readers.
  • Maps: Maps highlight important locations or places mentioned in the autobiography, especially if the author has had a diverse or international life.

Once finished writing, compile the index to help the readers locate the information in the autobiography.

The index at the end of a book is a list of terms, names, and subjects, along with the page numbers where they can be found in the book. It serves as a helpful reference for readers who want to quickly locate specific information within the text.

The above format is simple and easy to use, but the actual writing process can be a real challenge. So spend hours of time brainstorming your ideas and memories in detail before getting started. 

Autobiography Format Sample

Autobiography is like a personal story where the writer shares his/her personal life events. It is based on facts, and every person has something different to share with readers. 

It revolves around the writer’s childhood, family members, career, relationships, and life experiences. Here is a sample paper of a short autobiography format for college students that can be used as a reference. 

Sample of Autobiography Format

In addition, here are a few autobiography format examples for middle school and high school students:

Autobiography Format Class 6

Autobiography Format Class 7

Autobiography Format Class 8

Self Autobiography Format Class 12

Finally, we have provided an MLA autobiography format that you can refer to. 

Best Autobiography Format Example MLA

Want to go through some sample autobiographies? Head to our blog to find more autobiography examples to read and learn from.

To conclude,

Your autobiography is your story, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to write it. Still, with the help of this blog, you’re now aware of the basic format and elements that you should include for a successful autobiography.

Although the above guide should help you grasp the idea of how to write an autobiography, don't expect it to be an easy task. 

There are too many things that you have to take care of for writing an autobiography worth reading. Such writing tasks take a lot of time and can be pretty daunting at some point.

If you have never dealt with such a writing task before and are looking for help, you are in the right place. Our expert writers can handle any type of writing with great expertise.

So, place your " write my essay for me " request today and let us take care of your autobiography writing.

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Barbara P

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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How to Write an Autobiography

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How to Write a Biography (Examples & Templates)

A biography is a written account of a person’s life that details their life in chronological order. Another person usually writes this detailed account, and it contains reports of their childhood, career, major life events, relationships, and social impact. It also details their relationships with their family, children, and life accomplishments.

The best way to find out more about a popular figure is through reading their biographies, so you need to make sure you get the correct information. Before writing a biography, you need to do a lot of research and interviews to represent a person’s life accurately.

Types of Biography

A biography is the story of someone’s life as written by another writer. Most biographies of popular figures are written years, or even decades, after their deaths. Authors write biographies of popular figures due to either a lack of information on the subject or personal interest.

A biography aims to share a person’s story or highlight a part of their life.

There are different types of biographies, depending on the story. Some biographies are written true to the story, while some are written as fictional works. Biographies can give you true understanding of a person on an internal as well as external level along with a lot of life lessons.

Autobiography

An autobiography is different from a biography because it is written by the subject of the story, themselves. The author writes in the first-person narrative, and it flows step-by-step like a story of their life. Autobiographies contain personal accounts of the subject’s life, along with their perspectives and opinions on events in their life.

How To Write a Biography

Pick a subject.

Picking a subject is the first step in writing a biography. You can pick an already famous person or a relatively unknown person with a great life story. If you already have a few in mind, you can start by asking yourself some questions such as;

  • What has the subject accomplished that makes them a good subject?
  • Have they had an impact on society?
  • Is the subject a celebrity or a well-known personality?
  • Will the biography appeal to a wide audience?

Get Permission

When you pick a subject, the next thing to do is to get permission from them or their family or rights owners. Although, with some historical figures, there may not be any need for permission. Getting permission from your subject makes it easier for you to get stories to put into your book. You can get the chance to obtain additional personal stories and anecdotes that will make your book more interesting by doing so as well.

Do The Research

Research is the most important part of a biography’s process as the entire content of the book is dependent on it. Irrespective of what you know about the subject, you need to carry out as much research as possible to get the story’s facts precisely.

Biography research comes from various sources, depending on the book’s subject. Firsthand reports from family, friends, or personal accounts from the subjects are primary sources. They are usually the most accurate and reliable, and they are crucial for a biography. Secondary sources come from other sources like magazines or documentaries.

Pick a Format

Biographies come in various formats, with each of them having their pros and cons. A typical biography will start at the beginning, usually with the birth and childhood of the subject. Yet, if the biography’s theme involves a different event in their life, the author may want to explore the flashback option or one with concurrent events from different times.

Usually, biographies have a theme or a general life lesson at the center. The author’s role is to tell the subject’s story leading up to the major event.

Which-ever format you choose should place the theme at the center, with the other events detailing the journey.

Create a Timeline Of The Story

Since a biography takes place in chronological order, there needs to be a timeline of the events in the right order. The timeline should contain the key events in the subject’s life, in the order the author plans on revealing them. A great way to declutter the story and keep it interesting is to use flashbacks . This way, the author can introduce past events and explain later events excluding the element of monotony.

Add In Your Thoughts

The good thing about biographies is that you don’t have to stick to the hard facts only. As the author, you can share your opinions and emotions in writing. The author has the freedom to do this by commenting on a significant action by the subject in a manner that describes why they feel the subject may have done what they did.

The author can also include commentary on events depicted in the biography – how it was influenced society or its impact on the lives around them. Recounting these events through a different perspective can make the biography more relatable and interesting to read.

FAQ’s

Why is a biography template important.

A biography template has an outline that makes the writing easier for the author. Biography templates usually contain a sample timeline, format, and questions that provide more information about the subject. With a great biography template, you can cut your writing time in half and spend less time coming up with an outline.

How are biographies better in comparison to autobiographies

Since a different person writes biographies, they tend to be more objective and somewhat accurate than autobiographies. An autobiography tells things from the author’s perspective, so their views and perspective cloud it. Thus, a biography will likely tell a more factual story.

These are the important steps you need to take to help you write a great biography. Now, to make things easier for you, we have a free customizable autobiography and biography template that you can use to start your first book. Get the template and start writing today

What are some of the most important elements to keep in consideration while writing a biography?

Any author looking to write a biography must consider the factors below. They aren’t the only important factors, but a biography isn’t complete without them. • Date and place of their birth • Academic background • Professional expertise • Death, if deceased • Facts and anecdotes about the person • Main accomplishments • Detailed accounts of their child and adult life

Biographies tell the untold stories of some incredibly relevant people in the world. But biographies are not always strictly accurate. So, every biographer needs to follow the necessary steps to provide a biography with all the requirements.

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Transform your memories into vivid stories

LifeStoryPRO is an easy-to-use computer-based tool that helps create a book of your life.

We help you step-by-step as you bring your memories to life.

Your knowledge and life history are precious gifts that may influence your future great-great-grandchildren.

Family is about love.

You can share memories of hard work and determination, your favorite recipe, or finally get the chance to tell funny stories that may embarrass your favorite relatives!

Guided Interview Process

We strive to make you feel as though you’re chatting with a friend. The questions serve as a starting point for you to jump into your memories.

A Simple Program

If you can use the Internet, you can use LifeStoryPRO. We want you to feel comfortable. Our program is designed for everyone to enjoy.

Author Adjust

We take your comments and create a book for you to edit.

No blank pages to overcome! Save time and memories.

Easily add photos to your autobiography.

Print Ready

We offer several print options:

  • Book-format PDF file
  • Sharable digital copies

Safe and Secure

Your stories are safe with us. We use state-of-the art security to protect you, and you are the only one that can see and edit your information

Email Reminder Option

If you like, we will email you memory-prompts periodically. Just reply to that email question and we’ll add it to your book!  Fast and easy.

TESTIMONIALS:

The book is fantastic.  I absolutely love, love it!

I received the four books today.  THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!!!!!!

They are beautiful and it is a REAL book.  I flipped through it and you did a fantastic job.  It is something I and my children will always treasure.

I have received my books and am very pleased with the way they turned out.  Thanks for helping me in this endeavor.

I LOVE IT!   Thank you

Oh my gosh – this is SO cool!

I got the book and I love it! My dad will be thrilled.

I received it today!!

It’s absolutely beautiful!!

My book arrived this afternoon.  Its beautiful !  Thank you to you and your team for all your work and effort.

Dad really enjoyed the process of both writing and recalling long forgotten memories. Those memories have provided him with hours of conversations with friends and family.

This has been a wonderful exercise for my father. He was recently widowed when he answered his first question and he lacked concentration skills. His writing was rusty and he was frustrated with having to mentally translate all his childhood memories from French to English before writing. It was quite a challenge for him. He now looks forward to the questions and struggles much less with writing cogently. It has helped him in many ways to have this project to work on. Thank you!

Writing one’s autobiography is a very personal yet daunting task. Lifestory pro has demonstrated its ability to exceed this challenge. Their “weekly prompts” allow you to submit your biographical information at your own pace, a time saving feature that is priceless for us everyday people…

I place my manuscript in the personal and competent hands of LifeStory Pro!!

Michael Xavier

Thank you so much for this service you provide.  It is life changing.  Your whole staff should be so proud of what you do for people.  Inspiring them to put the life stories and pictures of themselves and members of their family into a book for other members and later generations to read is one of the greatest services there is.  THANK YOU SO VERY, VERY, VERY MUCH FOR WHAT YOU DO.

Thank you! You’re providing such a gift to others with your service! It has brought joy to our family. Thank you

8 years of preserving life stories!

Since 2016, LifeStoryPRO has been helping families preserve their memories and life stories in beautiful hardcover books that will be treasured for generations to come.

LifeStoryPRO Since 2016

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IMAGES

  1. 40 Autobiography Examples ( + Autobiographical Essay Templates)

    writing autobiography template

  2. Autobiography Outline Template

    writing autobiography template

  3. 40 Autobiography Examples ( + Autobiographical Essay Templates)

    writing autobiography template

  4. 40 Autobiography Examples ( + Autobiographical Essay Templates)

    writing autobiography template

  5. FREE 11+ Sample Autobiography in PDF

    writing autobiography template

  6. 40 Autobiography Examples ( + Autobiographical Essay Templates)

    writing autobiography template

VIDEO

  1. Autobiography,Biography & Memoir

  2. creative writing autobiography of a pen

  3. Autobiography " Writing for Personal Communication " || by Niken Lado

  4. Rebekah Jay's Autobiography

  5. Memoir Dialogue Guide

  6. Robinson Street Skeleton Case: Parhta De started writing autobiography, but could not fini

COMMENTS

  1. The Only (FREE) Autobiography Template You Need

    Below you'll find an autobiography template. It includes an outline with writing prompts in each section. Whether you are an "outliner" (someone who outlines) or a "pantser" (someone who writes by the seat of their pants), the outline has enough structure and flexibility to make both writer types happy. Autobiography Template: An Outline

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Shaping Your Legacy: How to Write a Compelling Autobiography

    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.

  6. How to Write a Biography: A 7-Step Guide [+Template]

    Facebook. These are just some of the story elements you can use to make your biography more compelling. Once you've finished your manuscript, it's a good idea to ask for feedback. 7. Get feedback and polish the text. If you're going to self-publish your biography, you'll have to polish it to professional standards.

  7. An Easy Autobiography Template Anyone Can Use

    Learn how to write your life story with a series of questions that prompt you to share your experiences and values. This template is easy, captivating and leaves your voice unedited in a Q&A format.

  8. How to Write an Autobiography (Fully Explained)

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. Writing an Autobiography

    For writers learning how to write an autobiography, an example template is as follows: Create notes of major life experiences, characters, events, etc. Create an outline of the story.

  11. How to write an Autobiography

    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.

  12. How to Write an Autobiography: A Step-by-Step Guide

    Start by brainstorming and outlining your life story, including significant events and turning points. Set out writing an autobiography through introspection about notable moments in existence. Craft a catalogue of instances that molded the personage inherent within and ponder how they influenced thinking processes as well as behavioural patterns.

  13. How to Write an Autobiography

    Writing an autobiography can be tough, especially if you don't know where to begin. But don't worry! Here is a simple step-by-step process that you can follow to write your autobiography. Step 1. Read Some Autobiographies. Before you start writing your own autobiography, it is a great idea to read some autobiographies written by other authors.

  14. Autobiography Outline Template

    Basic autobiography outline. The basic autobiography format is the usual format that an autobiography should follow. The outline starts with an introduction, early life, education, career life, and the current state and ends with a conclusion. It describes life as a journey with a beginning and an end.

  15. 40 Autobiography Examples (Autobiographical Essay Templates)

    Writing an autobiography template isn't an easy undertaking. When written, there will be as many life stories as there are people. What will make an autobiographical essay stand out are the essential topics. Those which will make it unique among the rest, sorting out the most significant events in one's life and writing about them are ...

  16. 11+ Autobiography Examples and Templates for Students

    Famous Autobiography Examples. Autobiographical essays are usually about famous people or historical figures. Just as a renowned autobiography of Benjamin Franklin tells us about his life, his unfinished records, his accomplishments, etc. Below are some examples of famous autobiographies for your better understanding:

  17. How to Write an Autobiography: 7 Key Steps

    7 steps to write your own life story: Brainstorm your autobiography's focus and scope. Skim autobiographies for inspiration. Choose between autobiography and memoir. Outline key and illustrative life events. Draft key scenes from your life. Find strong transitions. Check details and get beta readers. 1.

  18. How To Write An Autobiography: A Step-by-Step Guide

    An autobiography gives a firsthand account of the writer's life. It provides a higher intimacy level for the readers. This writing can serve the following purposes: Convey the writer's life story to a significant audience. Help the author leave a mark. Reconcile the author's past. Preserve the author's memories.

  19. Autobiography Format

    Writing an autobiography is an easy task if you plan ahead and have a format outline in hand. Here is a proper autobiography format for students. 1. Title. Write the title of your work at the top of your page in bold font. Remember, you can come back and change your title at any time.

  20. How to Write a Biography (Examples & Templates)

    A biography is the story of someone's life as written by another writer. Most biographies of popular figures are written years, or even decades, after their deaths. Authors write biographies of popular figures due to either a lack of information on the subject or personal interest. A biography aims to share a person's story or highlight a ...

  21. Write an autobiography and make a book of your life

    LifeStoryPRO is an easy-to-use computer-based tool that helps create a book of your life. We help you step-by-step as you bring your memories to life. Your knowledge and life history are precious gifts that may influence your future great-great-grandchildren. Family is about love. You can share memories of hard work and determination, your ...

  22. How To Write a Professional Short Bio (With Examples)

    Here are some steps you can follow to help you write a successful short bio: 1. Choose a voice. The first step in writing a short bio is deciding on a voice. For our purposes, choosing a voice involves deciding whether you are writing in the first or third person. Writing in the first person means using the words "I" and "me", and writing in ...