Autobiography Writing 101
An autobiography is when you write about your own life story in a book. This is different than a biography, where a third party writes about your life based off of outside evidence.
Establish the Purpose of Your Autobiography
People write their autobiography for many reasons and in truth, almost any reason is fine. However, for your own sake it is important to know the purpose. It can be anything from being a hobby, having a story to tell, seeking to earn money from it or simply just to show your kids/grandkids that you once had an interesting life before they came along!
The purpose of the purpose is to ensure you can remain motivated and committed to doing this as it is no small undertaking. If this is to be a hobby then of course there is no pressure but for the other reasons, it is important for you to focus and finish the project. There will be times of frustration and difficulty in writing and it is at those times that your purpose for writing keeps you going.
Talk to People
One way to make sure that you are adding the crucial parts of your life and story is to talk to people who were/are a part of it. This will also help you find out which points are fit to put in your autobiography, and which are less relevant to what you want your people may need/want to know about your life. Those close to you, those you have drifted apart from, your best friend from high school you haven’t spoken to in 30 years. These people will provide different angles or perspective and even remind you of elements you may have forgotten from your stories.
Make sure to tell them why you are asking too, otherwise when they see the book they may feel used. This is also a great motivator as the accountability involved in telling people will spur you on to get things done, especially when people ask you “Have you finished the book yet?”
Weave a Story From Your Life
When you are writing an autobiography, you have to find a way to add information into your story that will make you stand out from everyone else. This should be done to make confirm that you should even write the story of your own life before you even consider picking up a pencil. You can of course start from the day you were born; “When I first met my parents, I was very young at the time,…”, but you do not have to which is a mistake many people make. This is the story of your life, not the timeline, you can move things around a little. Like writing a news bulletin, you can begin with the main news and then go back to explain how the events came to pass. Be slightly adventurous in this aspect as you don’t need to follow a strict template.
Asking yourself “Who will read this?” while you are writing this book to be seen by the world is also a good thing to do. This can help you to determine if your experiences are profound enough to make it into a book to be sold to the public but unless you are only writing to earn money, don’t be put off by your own mind’s inferiority complex!
Be Wary of Writing About Others
Of course, when you are writing about your life, you are going to involve other people that have been involved in your life while growing up. This is inevitable. However, it is probably best, if you are going to include people close to you, to use a pseudonym.
Depending on what you write about the person in question, you might accidentally make them a target of harassment and anger. It is not uncommon for writers of autobiographies to be sued for including someone in their book. So in order to prevent this, make sure that the information you write is backed up by evidence, and make sure that you hide identities where it might be advisable. My advice would be to speak openly to anyone who may be mentioned in depth and especially to anyone who may be seen in a bad light. This can help prevent any problems and if the person so wishes, you can use a pseudonym for them.
Lying about an event or person you talked to, just to make your book seem more fascinating can be detrimental to your credibility rather than being beneficial. However, regardless of how true something is, you don’t have to add every single titbit of something into your book just because it is truthful. It is perfectly fine to leave out irrelevant information.
A great way to prove your facts is to provide evidence to back up your claims. This can be diaries, letters, obituaries, newspaper articles, and even interviews with people you knew. Even though it is your story, you should not expect people to take your word at anything more than face value.
Organization – The Real Key
When writing anything, organizing your thoughts, keeping them together and focused as well as laying them out in an intelligent fashion are vital to achieving a positive result.
Writer’s Blocks is a tool which allows you to bring all of your thoughts, inspiration, research, quotes and values together in one place and gives you the freedom to write better. The simple to use but invaluable software ensures your writing is always organized and put together properly without forgetting your key points.
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