How to write an autobiography about myself?

Many of us have sat where you are and asked the same question. Where do I begin? What shall I write about? Am I interesting enough to make a good story?

Don’t worry you’re not alone.

If you’re looking to make a start on your autobiography or searching for tips on autobiography writing tips then you have come to the right place!

Coming up in this post you will learn:

 

What is an autobiography

An autobiography is a self-written life story of the author. This is unlike a biography, which is a life story about someone written by someone else.

An autobiography should be written non-fictionally, on the subjects of personal experience and observation, allowing readers to relate and feel motivated by inspirational stories.

 

Types of Autobiographies

There are many types of autobiographies. Typically people focus on capturing the important aspects of life such as career, family and growth, whilst simultaneously expressing their emotions, facts, inner triumphs and struggles.

Let’s look at what type of autobiography you may feel inspired to write:

Memoir

A memoir is when authors write about their memories of particular events in their life. It’s a focus on their perspective of an event, people, or places rather than on their personal lives themselves. One of the most famous examples we can find of a memoir is that of Julius Cesar, where he tells little of his own life, but much from his conquest of the Gaul and operations of the Roman military journey.

Biography

A biography is an account of someone’s life written by someone else. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow is a fine example of a biography.

Thematic

These are accounts of lives with diverse purposes. It’s written by the author to influence the views of history and events through this person’s perspective. One of the most famous examples today is Adolf Hitlers Mein Kampf.

Intellectual

Intellectual autobiographies are a life story on their learning and careers. An example from the early 20th century was from the philosopher John Stuart Mill.

Spiritual /religious

There are many examples of autobiographies written from a religious or spiritual perspective. A famous example we can find is from Pope Pius II in his autobiography Commentarii, where he traces his career leading up to becoming pope.

Fictional

A fictional autobiography is the life story of someone who doesn’t exist. A great example of a fictional autobiography is Charles Dickens’s novel Great Expectations.

 

Reasons to write an autobiography

There are many reasons to write your autobiography, let’s look at some examples.

Personal benefits to the self

Many people begin writing their autobiography as a method of self-improvement. There are many well-documented studies that link writing an account of your own life to increases in self-esteem, life satisfaction and self-worth. As well as a decrease in anxiety and tension.

By writing an autobiography, people connect with their memories which are proven to increase brain stimulation. Often as people age, they forget many memories. Writing an autobiography allows them to reconnect with that part of the brain, and open more links to new memories.

To leave your legacy for your lineage

Some people quite simply want to leave their life story for their families to get an understanding of who they were as a person and their personal journey through life.

Preserve and protect your family history

Only the individual can record their own experiences in the way you remember it. Many people feel the importance to write about themselves and their perspective on life events as a way to preserve their history. Ensuring that family have an understanding of their version of events and experiences in history before it can be forgotten or altered.

To gain life perspective and a purpose for living

As people reflect on their past they get an understanding of who they are as people and can make a personal reflection on whether they have lived the life they intended.

Creating a personal life story can put hopes, dreams and goals in perspective, and be a great motivation to make important personal changes in life.

Your experience may help someone else

Some people record their journeys through traumatic or difficult times, and writing about their own personal journey of how they coped can inspire and help others going through a similar experience. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, or fighting a disease.

To help with memory loss

Many people are encouraged to write an autobiography as a way to help manage memory loss. There have been studies found that reliving old memories can improve cases of dementia.

To understand yourself better, overcome traumatic past experiences

Sometimes true therapy comes from self-therapy. Reliving past experiences and having to understand and deal with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, as a result, can help you overcome traumatic and difficult experiences that you never closed the door on.

That’s why some people decide to write an autobiography to confront these difficult pasts with new wisdom and experiences. Reflection can help them move past these events and feelings.

To make money

Some people decide to write and publish their autobiography to make money.

To improve as a writer

Writing a biography is one of the best ways to improve as a writer, as you have to learn ways to entertain and captivate strangers through the writings of your own life. Which sometimes aren’t super interesting to other people!

Inform and educate

Sometimes someone may a unique and interesting perspective on something that can be intriguing. Writing an autobiography of their personal account of an event, or their own thoughts and feelings may be educational to readers.

For example, this could be particularly useful to family members. Getting an understanding of a relative’s thoughts and actions may come from understanding their past experiences and perspectives from their childhood.

 

How to write an autobiography about myself?

So you now have an in-depth idea of what an autobiography is, the types of life stories you can tell, and the reasons for writing it.

Now you can begin thinking about how to write your own autobiography. Follow the guide below for a step-by-step process on how to write an autobiography.

Planning stage:

1. Decide who are you writing your autobiography for?

Entertainment- general public- descriptive

Are you planning on writing your autobiography for the general public? If so, you need to write in a descriptive way. Your audience knows nothing about you, so you need to introduce the background of other people in your stories. Let the readers get an in-depth view of who you are and your life. Make them feel like they are getting to know the real you as they read your life story.

Lineage- keepsake- some descriptions would be unnecessary

Are you planning on writing your autobiography for your lineage?

If so, you need not write so descriptively. You don’t need to introduce every family member with their own descriptions, as your audience will already have this knowledge. Leave out unnecessary information to make your book more captivating.

 

2. Decide your core concept

What is your autobiography going to revolve around? You need a central idea that unifies your entire life story. Determine one main recurring theme for continuity and interest. So whether that is love preservation, tenacity in times of hardship, physical determination, academic, spiritual or even success story. Choose something that is interesting to the reader, but that is also a common theme in your life.

 

3. Make a list of your past events

Before you begin writing anything you need to brainstorm events and ideas to put throughout your autobiography. Think about the different stages you’ve been throughout your life. Talk to your family and friends for inspiration. Or re-jog your memories by looking through old photos, videos, diaries and keepsakes.

It can be helpful to go through your life in chronical order and makes notes on events or memories that spring to mind. Have a go using our list here:

  • Toddler and nursey days (if you can remember this far back)
  • Infant / junior school
  • Secondary / high school
  • Out of school clubs or organisations in childhood (e.g a sports club or church)
  • College / university
  • Graduating
  • First job
  • Career
  • Romances
  • Coaches or teachers
  • Friends and family
  • Vocational activities
  • Recreation activities
  • Holidays
  • Achievements
  • Places lived
  • Philosophies
  • Food
  • Culture

 

Below Edubirdie.com have a Questions Checklist that also may be useful to get the creative juices flowing. Get a notepad and pen and jot down notes of your memories as you read through the list:

  • What’s the most exciting event you ever experienced?
  • Is there a personal story you’d like to get out of your system?
  • What’s your greatest accomplishment?
  • How can you describe yourself as a person?
  • What’s your most powerful memory?

Answershark.com also have a list of questions that you can use to get some ideas for your autobiography:

  • What was the best (or the worst) thing about an event or person you want to tell about?
  • What details are worth readers’ attention?
  • What mood do you want to share?
  • What feelings do you want to awaken?
  • What has changed after this event or meeting?
  • What lessons have you learned?
  • Why was this moment important for you?
  • What general idea can be related to this particular case?
  • Why have you decided to choose this event to share with your readers?
  • Why have you decided to write your autobiography now, at this moment of your life?

 

4. Decide order of writing,

Where do you want your life story to begin? Will you start with the end goal of your life and recount your tales of how you got there with flashbacks? Or will you write in chronological order from childhood? Maybe you want to start with your first love or achievements? You can choose themes to write your book around or life events in order of how they happened. Just make sure to be organised and stick to a format that makes sense.

 

Writing stage

5. Create your plot

So you have your timeline, your main characters, your best stories, now you need to tie it all together.  This is the story of your life, so make it captivating.

Write your autobiography in an interesting way. Take your readers on a journey of your life. As with all entertaining books, there is an overall story that builds towards a climax that then resolves itself.

Centre all your stories around the main theme, crease tension and suspense that leads to the climax.  Think about your biggest conflicts or obstacles, how did you deal with these? How did you overcome them?

Then once your story has reached its pinnacle, end with a resolution.

It’s good to leave the end on a self-evaluation. What did you learn? How did you live your life after this event? It doesn’t have to be a happy ending, but it should end in a satisfying way. Maybe you can leave something for the audience to learn, or feel inspired to do.

6. Create interest for the reader

Write in a way to captivate and catch the reader’s attention from the beginning.

Let’s look at some ways you can write to make the book interesting:

Catch attention

Catch their interest at the beginning of the book, and they will want to read on. You need to show that your book is interesting, unique and worth their time from the start. Use common nostalgia if you can, try and create a connection between you and the reader.

Show personality

Whether your funny, dim, intense, direct, your personality needs to shine through.  You want the audience to get a good understanding of who you are. Remember this is your story, so tell it in the way you would a friend.

Be Revealing

People like the underdog story. How you have faults but learned to overcome them. Hearing the full truths (warts and all!) will interest your readers and enable them to connect with you.

Be descriptive

Immerse your readers in your life story. Be descriptive and use the five senses, use smells, taste, touch, sight and sounds to describe your world. Allow your readers to use their imaginations as they build a picture in their minds.

Your chapters

Make your chapters form the structure of your book. So begin chapters with a fresh story, set the tone for what is to come. Then end your chapters on the ending of that part of your story. Try to create suspense for what’s coming next. This will leave your readers wanting to find out more.

 

Editing and polishing

7. Consult the people involved

Firstly, get people permission if you want to use their names in your book. It’s a good idea to check facts with the people involved in your stories. How did a certain conversation actually go? Reflect as best you can, but don’t put in made-up conversations or stories involving people in your life.

8. Share your writing

Get feedback from various people on your book before you make it public. You may think you’ve put in interesting things, but they may be boring to others.

9. Choosing a title

Choosing a title can be a daunting task, especially if you want to publish your book, you need to choose a title that will be remembered. Make sure your title matches the tone of your book. You don’t want to have a humorous title with a very serious story. It will be misleading to the reader.

Thematic title

What’s the message that runs throughout your book? Do you have a consistent theme? You can select a title that reflects this. Picturesandstories.com gives a great list of autobiographies with thematic titles. An example they highlight is “Look Beyond the Weeds” by Beverley Sorenson Taylor, reflecting her undying optimism and positive outlook expressed in her book, despite some difficult circumstances.

Quote a saying

Did someone give your life-changing advice? If you altered your behaviour, choices and decisions around something someone said to you, then this could be a great title. But only if it is short and snappy enough!

 

Writing a digital autobiography instead

If writing a book isn’t your thing, then you can always create a digital autobiography.

Social media

You can’t mention digital life storytelling without mentioning the relevance of social media.

Without realising it, social media has become a daily habit for some people to share their life story. Whether intentionally telling stories of themselves or unintentionally, more people are involved with capturing their life in a digital record than ever before.

Social media is the contemporary way to represent yourself publically. With the ease of uploading consistent and digitalised stories of ourselves, people can communicate their lives in real-time using images, videos, thought and feelings. Leaving a digital footprint for the world to see.

Through sharing their personal lives on social media, more people are becoming interested in the practice of biography.

Reliability

However, even with the ease of using social media, will it ever be considered a serious form for an autobiography?

It’s difficult to predict, but there are faults now in the system that unless rectified prove to be an unreliable form of life capturing.

For example, YouTube users have found difficulties in the reliability of their self-preservation, due to the constant changes and updates that force users to change or hide their content. Social media is constantly evolving and changing, and YouTube, in particular, is infamous for making new rules that force users to make changes to their content in order to comply.

Biography Apps

However, there are forms of digital life storytelling that are reliable for digitally creative minds. Although not in the traditional form of reading a paperback book, digital autobiographies are an alternative way to express and story tell our lives through a combination of media and writing.

Let’s look at the Reliving App:

 

Reliving – The digital biography app

Reliving is a digital biography app which allows you to preserve your legacy in your own words, voice, picture and video.

Download Reliving: http://onelink.to/u3a62c

 

How the app works

Media upload

Log into your Reliving account where you can follow an easy, ready-made template to manage your photos and memories from your past and real-time. All of your digital media is stored and can be accessed from the cloud. With easy uploads, you can organise and create a wonderful and rich life story to be proud of.

Journaling/ diary entries

The app also has a journal (diary) feature to track your daily life in real-time. It enables you to track your emotions each day, upload media and favourite the best memories.

An annual overview can be created of your favourite moments, putting your life story into interesting chapters.

For more information on using the app for diary entries see our post here.

Goal setting

You can set life goals, and break down the process by setting yearly, monthly, weekly and daily tasks to achieve it. See more on the goal-setting feature by reading this.

 

Writing your autobiography

By combining your goal-setting journey with your journaling you have a reliable source of information to revisit when it comes to reviewing your autobiography. You will have kept track of your best moments, emotions, media and your goal process.

You’ll have an accurate account of who you were as a person before your goal was set out, and who you turned into at the end of the journey.

Passing on your legacy

Your personal profile on the reliving app is completely private. Your media is stored in a secure database that only you can access through your account.

When you pass on, your life story is available to your family in a read-only book format. Giving them a detailed, intimate and accurate insight into who you were as a person and what you achieved in your life.

 

Create your life story today! If you want to find out more about creating your life story digitally, see our post here.