What Story and Why
How to Tell
Life Story Resources
Research is Fun
Writing an Autobiography
"Doing It Yourself Doesn’t Mean Doing It Alone"
Writing an autobiography is not as daunting a task as you might think. Everyone has memories and all you have to do is jar those memories loose and write them down.
If you want to create a literary work that you and others are proud of then taking the time to craft the words and tell the story in an informative, interesting and entertaining way will take some work. But, how to write an autobiography is not as difficult as you may think.
Start by understanding what an autobiography is.
Are you wondering just what is meant by autobiography? The Hutchinson Dictionary of the Arts states "an autobiography is a person's own biography, or written account of his or her life, distinguished from the journal or diary by being a connected narrative, and from memoirs by dealing less with with contemporary events and personalities".
Hmmm...ok, that's a mouthful. What that says is that if you write an autobiography it will be more than a "cut and paste" from your journal or diary, and that you will be going back into your memory and mining the past for those significant events in your life.
types of people - rich and famous to average joe - are writing
From an interview with Katie Couric on the Today
Show (aired Nov 4, 2003). Sting (former
lead singer for the rock group "Police" and solo artist) has written an
autobiography entitled "Broken Music".
in honor of Ben Franklin's 300th birthday the
There are some easy things you can do to get started.
Even if your autobiography is not great prose you can still get down on paper some vital information to pass on to others. To write an autobiography, begin with lists. Write down your favorite movies, music and authors. What are your favorite times of year, holidays, colors and places to visit? Who are the most important people in your life? List the dates of significant times and places in your life, like your birthplace, schools, relationships and jobs.
See, it’s easy to get started. Even if the notes seem sketchy at first you will come back to them and write more. It’s bound to happen as you read over your lists and you will discover the joy of autobiography writing.
Most of us feel this project is too overwhelming or that no one will really care that much about our life to want to read our story. That is so very wrong. We all have unique experiences and memories to pass on to others. We have all learned a lot in the school of life. Your friends and family want to know about you. If you haven’t already visited the What Story and Why page do that now for more reasons why writing your autobiography is a worthwhile endeavor.
If you keep a journal there is plenty of information there. You should also look through old letters and cards, photo albums and past emails (I bet you’ve saved a few of those!).
a spiral notebook handy and take it with you. Whenever you have a
moment and a memory comes to mind quickly jot down some notes. They
don’t have to be complete sentences. Writers use this tool
all the time and if you are writing your autobiography then you are
part of the fraternity of writers. (Yes, you are the one telling the
story and it is going to have your unique personality. Way
to go, author!)
can discover some other interesting, even fun, resources
I’ve found that are helpful to you for writing your
autobiography (check out the research
page). Visit some of the links listed below. If you discover
that you really want to write your story, but you’d prefer to
have a writer do it for you be sure to check out the Biography Writer’s
Have the Right Stuff page.
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Email Tom Gilbert