Tell Your Story- How To Write An Autobiography With Helpful Examples
Does the idea of being forgotten after you leave the world, bother you? If yes, then writing an autobiography is your solution. One way of always being remembered in the world is to leave a piece of writing behind to ensure that your family and friends remember you when you’re gone.
A common misconception about autobiographies is that you cannot write your life story if you are not famous, or that your story is not worth telling if you haven’t made a huge difference.
While the autobiographies of personalities like Anne Frank, Nelson Mandela and Maya Angelou are important to understand their struggles and successes, there is no harm in writing a personal memoir of your life for your close friends and family.
Penning down the events of your life is an effective way of reflecting on your experiences and memories, too. So if you are interested in writing and feel that the moments you have lived are special enough to mention, pick up your pen and start planning your book!
Take inspiration from the writing style of other authors who wrote autobiographies. You do not necessarily have to follow the same structure or pattern, but doing a lot of research can make the process easier. Check whose life story aligns with yours the most and pick the category wisely. You can find an autobiography on almost all the famous personalities ranging from artists, musicians, authors, activists, and sportspeople. So, start working by getting in the zone.
How will your story progress? This is an important aspect to consider before penning down the work. If you believe that your story would be more effective written in chronological order, then you must go for it. But many personalities usually jump from events to events while simultaneously maintaining the flashback, which makes the plot even more interesting. However, writing in flashbacks is complicated, so if you are not comfortable, you can adopt a simpler style.
You need to decide the people you are telling your story to. If it is just your family and friends, then the approach would be more intimate, and you can even miss out some details as they would already be aware of those. However, writing for general publishing would be different because then you will be required to introduce characters and focus on minor details. Just think about how you’d tell a random stranger about your life and then form the story following the same pattern from scratch.
You may think that your life isn’t big enough to make a difference, but reading about your experiences can influence other people. So pick a central idea for your book; something that motivated you into writing an autobiography and focus all your events around that theme.
Perseverance, love, honesty, sacrifice, guilt and other human emotions can be explored through your story. Whatever you think affected your life the most will not just make an impact on the readers but will also make you contemplate your choices.
Now comes the part where you have to get into action and perform the task with utmost focus and attention to detail. Dedicate some time from your daily routine to sit down and contemplate ideas on where and how it should begin. You can prepare a rough draft first to determine the direction of your autobiography and then proceed with it accordingly. Make a timeline of different events of your life and then formulate them in a story by using connective ideas.
Many websites and software online help you with a pattern and allow you to write efficiently by moulding your life events into a story. Usually, they ask you auto-generated questions where you elaborate on the details from your life and then form those into coherent sentences, giving you a clear idea of what you should write about. So, utilise these tools if you’re stuck and they will help you with the direction of your story.
Stating events in monotone will make your story sound factual, so make sure you introduce interesting ideas to grasp the attention of the readers. One technique that is widely appreciated in autobiographies is writing down the reaction of other characters in your story to unusual circumstances as they can communicate human nature, making it relatable for the audience. If you have any funny childhood story, you can incorporate it within the events and make it impactful by mentioning the minor details.
This is essential for your writing because how else will you fix the errors in the autobiography. One way to do so is to read your story after a couple of days to get a fresh perspective so you can edit out all the unnecessarily long sentences or lack of connectivity in the ideas. Also, you can ask a friend or a relative to edit your work and make the changes they suggest. However, remember that it is your story and no one knows it better than you do, so if you find the edits unconvincing, stick to your intuition.
Just focus on what you consider important and then go to the main part of writing. Relatives and friends usually love to read about the roles they have played in your story but make sure that you are honest about the events as that’s what will make your autobiography a success.
Until then, you can read the examples mentioned below for inspiration!
Childhood, Boyhood, Youth” by Leo Tolstoy (1852-1857)
“A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway (1964)
“My Autobiography” by Charlie Chaplin (1964)
- “Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia” by Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
“A Street Cat Named Bob” by James Bowen (2010)
“Gretzky: From the Backyard Rink to the Stanley Cup” by Walter Gretzky (1985)
- “My Game” by Bobby Orr (1974)
“I Can Jump Puddles” by Alan Marshall (1955)
- “My Family and Other Animals” by Gerald Durrell (1956)
- “De Profundis” by Oscar Wild (1897)
- “An Autobiography” by Agatha Christie (1965)
- “The Summing Up” by W. Somerset Maugham (1938)
“Three Singles to Adventure (Three Tickets to Adventure)” by Gerald Durrell (1954)
“Walden; or, Life in the Woods” by Henry D. Thoreau (1854)
- “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge” by Carlos Castaneda (1968)
“Orlando: A Biography” by Virginia Woolf (1928)
“The Hero” by Rhonda Byrne (2006)
- “The Beatles (the Authorized Biography)” by Hunter Davies (1968)
“My Life in France” by Julia Child (2006)
- “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values” by Robert M. Pirsig (1974)
“The Tender Bar” by J.R. Moehringer (2005)
“Ham On Rye” by Charles Bukowski (1982
- “Girl, Interrupted” by Susanna Kaysen (1993)
- “The Long Hard Road Out of Hell” by Marilyn Manson (1998)
“Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy” by Frances Mayes (1996)
“Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
- “The Man Without Qualities” by Robert Musil (1930-1943)
Have you considered the methods you will be utilising to make your work a masterpiece?