How to Write an Autobiography

how to write an autobiographyThere is perhaps no better way to record your life for posterity than through an autobiography. This celebrated form allows writers a great deal of flexibility with which to tell their story, which can be both artistically freeing and a little intimidating for those who are just starting out. Before you can put your pen to the page, or open your computer’s word processor, consider how these steps can help guide you through the ins and outs of how to write an autobiography.


Step 1. Before you can get started, it is important to consider what you hope to say through this book. The best autobiographies are not simply lists of events in the writer’s life, but also contain some sort of broader message or narrative flow. By thinking about some of the formative events in your life, and your ideal audience for the work, you will be able to create a working outline that will guide you through the process of composing your autobiography. This outline can be changed, of course, as you go along, but it will be helpful in keeping you focused and ensuring that your story flows naturally and holds the attention of the reader.

Step 2. The most important thing that anyone who is embarking on a large project can do is to set deadlines. Your autobiography make take years to complete, so setting up small milestones along the way is a good way to keep you motivated and ensure that you will, in fact, complete your book. If you have never really written anything before, be sure to build a learning curve into the deadlines that you set. To increase the chances that you will stick to these deadlines, schedule readings with your family or other external pressures that will help you stay on track.

Step 3. Start writing. As many first time writers quickly discover, writing can seem easier than it actually is. Being confronted with a blank page and little structure can cause writer’s block and panic in even the most seasoned writers, so do not be too hard on yourself if this should happen to you. The key to getting through these roadblocks is simply to keep writing, even if you feel as though you are not getting anywhere. Remember that you know your story better than anyone else does, and you are the only one who can tell it. This thought can be enough to keep you motivated and moving forward.

Step 4. When you have completed your memoirs, it is time to decide what you will do with it. This is a monumental accomplishment, and one that deserves to be shared. Whether you are hoping to share it solely within your family, or hope to sell it commercially, self-publishing can be a great way to avoid the submission process and see your book completed quickly. With self-publishing, the writer will incur the costs of binding and printing the book, but will also retain all the resale rights. Respected self-publishing businesses can be found online, and they accept books in any genre from both beginner and experienced writers.

Those who would prefer to work with a publisher will find that an agent makes the submission process far easier and increases the chances that the manuscript will be read. When looking for representation, do not simply send your book to leading literary agencies. Instead, reach out to prospective agents with an excerpt or chapter from your book, as well as a treatment of the rest of the work. With any luck, you will be able to establish a working relationship and get your manuscript in front of the right people.

No matter what you have accomplished in your life, there is no better way to share the benefits of your experience with others than through writing an autobiography. Whether you decide to market your work commercially, or simply hope to share it with those you love, writing your memoirs will be a fulfilling and meaningful experience.

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