Most authors write their autobiography to 1) share personal or family history, 2) put life in perspective or 3) impart life lessons. They write about their past to understand how they got to where they are, which is why some senior citizens have taken to writing life stories.
Writing an autobiography of yourself is an act of passion, a burning desire to organize your memories and put them on paper. But before you begin to write your autobiography, be sure to answer this question: Why am I writing my autobiography? The answer should be your guide from the first to the last sentence of your book.
Other important considerations regarding how to write your autobiography include:
- Know your audience: Is the target audience family, friends, children, adults, professionals, parents or others? Write to them. This is how to begin an autobiography.
- Watch your words: Use simple words and uncomplicated sentences that your target audience understands. Write for them the same way you talk to them.
- Be detailed: Include all of the details needed to fully appreciate the situation you’re writing about. There’s little worse than reading a passage that fails to convey a complete message. Details provide depth of understanding.
- Keep it interesting: Create a mental picture by using descriptive narration, but don’t be long-winded. Readers want to be entertained and informed, not turned off by useless information.
- Don’t rely solely on memories: Memories are not always accurate. Interview family, friends and others about their perceptions and remembrances. Use letters, photos, diaries, obits and newspaper articles to jog or clarify your memories.
- Honesty is the best policy: Autobiographies are non-fiction; they are based on truth. Don’t make stuff up!
- Include a picture: Make your first impression with a personal photo. Perhaps put a baby picture on the front cover and a current photo on the back cover. Putting pictures in the narrative can get expensive, but also help to convey the story.
- Set a schedule: Writing regularly is better than writing for long periods. Get family and friends to honor your writing schedule.
- Get an editor: DO NOT self-edit your autobiography! Even experienced authors use professional editors. Hire an editor that specializes in autobiographies. Professional editors know what to write in an autobiography.
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