An autobiography is a perspective of life that only its writer can provide. No matter how seemingly ordinary, or non-eventful your life may seem, there is a significance in your experience. Without some sort of record of the places you've been, and the people you've seen, all of that information dies with you. In a way, an autobiographical record of your life is a gift that you give to the world that formed you, leaving a perspective that only you can provide.
Within the day-to-day scheme of things, life as we know it has a tendency to move so fast that there's little time to make sense out of what's going on. Finding that "big picture" perspective on what you've been through, who you are, and what it all may mean is one of the many benefits to writing your autobiography.
Family genealogies have resurfaced to become a grounding point for many families. Through understanding their roots, and journeys families are able to make sense out of who they are, and why they do things the way they do. Writing an autobiography can provide this same sense of grounding, and make for a thorough contribution to a family's genealogy as well.
- Not unlike any other narrative form, an autobiography will center around a main theme, or connecting issue that runs through the course of the story. There are a couple different ways to organize your life story, but all of them should center around one main theme. Many autobiographies are written in chronological order, beginning at the beginning and ending in the present. As events in your life unfold on paper, a connecting theme should become apparent.
- Another approach is to organize your story around a single event that marks a fundamental aspect of who you are today. In this format, the other parts of the story will all relate in some way to that one singular event. As such, this single event represents the theme of your autobiography.
- A variation on this approach would be to put together your own fill-in-the-blanks binder, and complete each section in the order of your choosing. This approach allows for more flexibility.
Suggestions for writing
- An autobiography is all about what happened in your lifetime.
- Gather Information, collect all the facts and events that you think should be made known to the readers. Make a note of all the facts and lifetime events, but make sure you choose the most appropriate ones, as there can be some events that you would not want to mention. You can even discuss with your family and friends regarding the events that you missed noting down which are worth including in the autobiography. Also note that it is your autobiography, and all the events should be pertaining to you, not others. Remember, that once published, it will become public record.
- Interview people who know you. Sometimes we need another perspective on our lives.
- Sort Chronologically all the gathered information. You can even make chapters of the events occurred. Identify the time gaps if there are any, and try to find out what you were doing during that particular time. Again you can discuss with your family members what was your status during that time. Try not to leave too many gaps, else it will seem like a very biased work, and might not find many readers.
- After you have sorted out and arranged all the information, make a rough draft.
- Read the draft and revise any sections that you don't like, go through all the information, pattern, and order thoroughly. Try to make out and eliminate any mistakes, and modify the content if you find some facts which would not be appropriate mentioning. Revise the draft many times, no matter how much time it takes. This will let you know more mistakes that you left unnoticed.
- Let your first draft sit for at least a month. This idle time lets you come back to the draft with a fresh outlook.
- Repeat the last two steps as many times as you feel necessary.
- Give your polished draft to a trusted reader. Listen to their comments, and make further revisions. This is the most important step that will shape the final outcome of your autobiography.
- After everything is done, write the final Autobiography.
Introduce readers to who you are, what you do with your life and what you enjoy. Your introduction should be charming and intrigue readers so that they will want to know more about their life.
Talk about your family. Tell the reader any interesting stories that your family has about you from the day you were born. Talk about your siblings and if you remember any of them being born. Mention memories of visits with grandparents, aunts, uncles and family reunions. If there is something unique about your family---whether it be a tradition, pleasant memories or not-so-pleasant memories---explain it to the reader in detail. Make the reader feel as if they watched you grow up and knew your family intimately.
Your childhood was more than just who your family members were. Who was your best friend growing up? Tell the story of the most interesting, frightening or exciting adventure you had with your best friend. Talk about the hobbies you had growing up and what you were like in school. If you were a good student, than describe your favorite subject. If you were a bad student, then discuss what you would have rather been doing other than studying. Describe any childhood crushes in detail.
Write about the places you have visited, the people you met and what you learned from each location. If you traveled alone, discuss what that was like. Or, if you always traveled with the same person (wife, sibling, friend, etc.) then explain to the reader why you enjoyed taking trips with that person.
Discuss the major world events that occurred in your lifetime and explain the impact that they had on you. Write about where you were when those things happened and how they changed the way you see yourself and the world. Also, discuss the major events that occurred in your life that may have changed you either for the better or for the worse. What events led you down the path to become the person you are today?
Conclude strongly with your outlook for the future---both for your own life and for the future overall---based on what you have learned in life. Make some conclusions on the events that motivated you to have the experience you had, to become the person you are, and to have made the decision to tell your own story.