Made in America

Three Tips for Starting an Autobiography

Everyone has a story. If you’ve lived a life that you’re proud of or one that’s filled with amazing experiences or anecdotes that you want to share with others, an autobiography could be the vehicle that can carry your message.

Though an autobiography is an account of a person’s life as written by that person, this genre of writing isn’t much different from fiction.

Let us explain.

When writing a fiction novel, you’re using your imagination to weave a series of connected events that will keep the readers interested and invested in your story. There are characters and plot twists that work together to bring your story to life.

Even though an autobiography is based on factual information about your life, the idea behind the writing doesn’t really divert from fiction. Your autobiography should be treated like any other good story that includes interesting characters and a common theme that holds the story together. So what do you need to do before you start your autobiography?

Here are three tips.

Map it out.

It’s your life. You’ve lived it, and nobody knows it better than you. So take some time to reflect on the timeline of your life. This exercise will help you pinpoint pivotal events, people or situations that changed the course of your life, and recall important dates and other bits of information that you want to include. Your timeline is the structure in which you will write your autobiography. To begin, write everything down. No detail is too small at this point in the planning process. Once you’ve written down all of the information about your life that you might possibly want to include, you can then start weeding out details that might not add any depth to your book. Remember, your autobiography doesn’t have to start at your birth. It’s perfectly appropriate to begin right before the start of the main events you’re describing. It’s also worth noting that your autobiography can include your family history and ancestry as well. This information could add some substance and context to the other details in your book.

Pinpoint the best.

Our lives are full of stories both small and large. However, not every story is worth incorporating into your autobiography. It’s your job to weigh the importance of each story you want to include. If you’re stumped on how to vet your stories, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Childhood ­– Your younger years are basically the foundation on which your life was built. Though as we said you don’t have to start at birth, you should consider incorporating some tidbits from your childhood, because these younger years pave the way for our entire lives.
  • Pivotal moment – There will likely be a point in time that changes the entire landscape of our lives. Whether it’s a career realization, finding your soulmate or embarking on a life-changing journey, you’ll want to talk about that pivotal moment that played a major role in shaping you into the person that you are today.

Be yourself.

When writing your autobiography, be sure to write in your own voice. Authenticity and infusing your own personality into your writing will make your stories more amusing and your life lessons more meaningful. Your autobiography is essentially a portal into your life. Open your heart to your readers and let your prose be clear. Use normal phrases and try not to pollute your writing with large vocabulary words. Write like you’re talking to a friend. Be revealing, let your guard down and tell your story.

Copyright Dorrance Publishing, 2017

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