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How to write an autobiography

May is National Share a Story Month so what better story to share than your very own?

How many times have you heard someone say they could write a book about their life story? Well, why don’t they?

These days writing a biography about yourself is comparatively easy. You can get plenty of tips online and once it is finished you can send it away to be printed and transformed into a beautiful book for friends and family to keep.

What is the format of an autobiography?

You might think that an autobiography should start when you were born and end up where you are today but in truth, you can begin your life story at any random stage in your life. Usually, one where you have had some kind of revelation or big change. For example:

“It was when I finished working as a milkman and began my new life as a con artist that things really took a downward turn…”

An autobiography is a person’s life story written by them, as opposed to a biography which is a personal tale told by another. You can tackle your story yourself or hire someone to do it for you – known as a ghost-writer.

Writing your autobiography should be an enjoyable way to review your life and get into perspective all the things you have done. It is extremely hard for you to get published by a publishing company but there is no reason you can’t produce your own book – which is where our book super centre comes in!

How to start an autobiography

Begin by writing down all the things you remember about your life, from your earliest memories to the most joyful and the most painful. You can put them in some sort of order a little later if you don’t know where to start at first. Don’t worry if you recall insignificant details as they will give colour and a truthfulness to your story. Once you have a few pages of notes you can begin to work out a theme to your autobiography. Maybe you had a happy childhood which turned into tragedy, in which case you might want to spend a lot of time on the details of your early life to place in stark contrast to your later years. Or perhaps you had a difficult start but triumphed over adversity and turned your life around, these stories are full of hope and can also help others. You might want to start with your life as it is now and work your way back in time or begin at an earlier part of your life. The way you organise your narrative is all down to you. However, there is a basic five part structure you can follow.

What are the five parts of an autobiography?

1. Name date and place of birth of the subject
2. Personal life
3. Important life events
4. What they have achieved
5. Their impact on the wider world

How to write a biography about yourself

Interview friends and family

It’s not necessary but often, having a number of different “voices” within your story is a good way to give the narrative another dimension. Also, if your book is something you are presenting to loved ones, then it’s rather nice that they are featured within its pages as contributors.

One thing to beware of is revelations about those people closest to you. Divulging secrets or offering unfavourable opinions of your nearest and dearest could very well affect your relationships with them, so you need to consider this before you begin spilling the beans on their secret love children, or jailbird past.

Describe things in detail

Your autobiography should be able to transport the reader to a particular place and time, which is where descriptive passages come in. Think about what that children’s party smelled like, or the fairground. The mown grass smell and muffled sounds of a Sunday in the summertime. Cast your mind back and if you don’t have exact recall don’t worry. That’s where your imagination can fill in the blanks.

Make it an honest recount

When writing an autobiography about yourself you should make it as honest as possible. Nobody wants an airbrushed version of your life; they want the warts-and-all account. In fact, the more warts there are the more interesting it will be to most readers, so don’t hold back on all the messy details!

Editing your biography

Once you have written your life story, you should take the time out to read it through and ensure that it flows well and makes sense. Perhaps get a friend or relative to go through it with you so that you get at least one other opinion. Most writers will have already edited each chapter as it is written so that they don’t have an overwhelming number of pages to go through at the very end.

Printing your autobiography

Once you feel your autobiography is complete you can begin to think about the actual book you want to have printed. Do you want a hardback or a paperback book? And, don’t forget to create an interesting cover. You may want to get a professional photographer to take your picture. This is all about you!


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