How to Write an Autobiography

How to Write an Autobiography & Preserve Your Life Story

What’s the Difference Between an Autobiography and a Biography?

When thinking about how to write an autobiography or a biography, you need to consider what point of view you want to take. Do you want to tell the story through your eyes? Or, do you want someone else to write a story about your life for you?

A biography is a detailed description of a person’s life, but it is written by someone other than the person. An autobiography allows you to tell the story of your life and include all the details you feel are relevant. You tell the story from the first-person point of view. This means you use personal pronouns, like I, me, and my. 

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How to Classify an Autobiography

If you’re a fan of literature, you know there are a wide variety of book genres out there. You might enjoy romance, fantasy, sci-fi, or mystery. Basically, all books fall under two categories: fiction and nonfiction.

If you want to write an autobiography, you’re creating a piece of nonfiction. This type of writing is characterized by facts, real events, and real people. It allows you to tell the true story, according to your memories of how things happened. 

You might think this form of writing could be less exciting than fiction, but nonfiction can be entertaining, too. Literary nonfiction uses emotion and feelings to connect to the reader. Choosing to write an autobiography can be just as exciting as creating a made-up work of fiction.

The Key Characteristics of How to Write an Autobiography

If you’re thinking about how to write an autobiography, there are a few key characteristics you should consider:

  1. 1
    The main character is the author, which is you
  2. 2
    It is written in the first-person point of view
  3. 3
    It retells the key points in the writer’s life
  4. 4
    It gives insight into the author’s feelings, reactions, and goals
  5. 5
    Includes other people and events that are important to the author
Elderly woman's hands with chipped nail polish holding a book that says my life story as she learns how to write an autobiography

Some autobiographies are broad and recount the author’s whole life. However, there are some that focus on specific periods of time, and/or important points the author chooses to write about.

Autobiographies are very subjective, which means they tend to be very personal and heavily influenced by feelings. The information presented is based on facts, but is subject to the author’s emotions on each experience or event.

Steps to Take When You’re Ready to Write Your Autobiography

If you think about it, sitting down to write your life story can seem like an impossible task. You might have no idea where to start, or what to include. Follow these steps when you site down to write your autobiography:

  • Brainstorm

    Start by thinking broadly. Don’t narrow things down right away. Think of all the important events that have shaped you into the person you are now. Jot down specific things you think are worth sharing. Some things might not even make it into your autobiography, but at least you have the full picture laid out.

  • Make an Outline

    Organize what you want to focus on by putting everything in its place. What will keep your reader interested? You want to make sure to include stories that will keep your reader engaged from beginning to end. The My LifeJars app is the perfect place to start organizing your outline. The Memory Jars allow you to store memories from the different phases of your life. You can easily go back in, review these, and decide how to structure your autobiography.

  • Do some research

    Depending on how old you are, you have to rely on your memory to do most of your writing. You should interview your family and friends to get their perspective on those times. Their memories can help you remember certain times in your life.

  • Write your first draft

    Once you have an outline and all your research, take a shot at writing a first draft. No, it won’t be perfect. Yes, it will probably be long and tough. But, it will give you insight on how you really want your story to be told. With My LifeJars you can choose a particular memory to write about, from any part of your life and build your draft in bite-size pieces. This can make it easier than starting at the beginning and running out of steam!

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    PRO TIP:  Take a Break

    You poured your soul into writing that first draft. Now, take a step back. You want to get a bit of distance and then come back and read what you wrote with a fresh perspective.

  • Proofread it

    Obviously, you want to check for mistakes. Take a deep dive, too. Read it like you are the reader. Mark it up. Circle your weak spots and think of better, more compelling ways to get your point across.

  • Write a second draft

    Take a look at the notes you wrote yourself. Start changing and correcting things. When this draft is complete, start showing it to trusted friends and family. Ask for their opinions and perspectives. Get help from a professional editor, if you can. It is easy to grant permissions for others to review and edit your memories in MyLifeJars.

  • Keep rewriting

    You shouldn’t expect to have a completed version of your autobiography right away. Add more memories as many times as you feel you need to. Get new people to look at these new inclusions. This is your story. Make sure you’re telling it exactly how you want.

The Benefits of Writing an Autobiography

It is important to review the events of your life and try to make sense of what you did, who you were, and what you thought. It can be beneficial to you, but also to all of your family and friends.

 Here are some benefits of writing your autobiography.  

  • Creating a legacy

    Your story may seem boring to you, but think how valuable it can be to future generations. People might have heard things about your life, but with your autobiography they get the facts straight from you.

  • Choose how you’re remembered

    If someone else is telling your story, they can paint a certain picture of you. If you write your own story, the truth is right there in black and white.

  • Protect the history of your family

    You might have told family members stories about your life, but are they retelling them correctly? Your autobiography ensures the true stories will live on long after you’re gone.

  • Become an inspiration

    Every story is unique, but many of us face the same challenges. By writing your story, you might inspire someone else with your life journey.

  • Resolve past wrongs

    Looking at all the events of your life allows you to revisit all the things you have overcome. Reflecting on the past may allow you to move past things and make amends with your family and/or friends.

  • Develop self-discipline 

    When you sit down and think about how to write an autobiography, it takes time and effort. But with a little self-discipline and prioritizing your autobiography it can be done.

  • Self-Improvement

    Looking back at your life, might cause you to re-evaluate how you dealt with things throughout your life. You can use this reflection to change your life moving forward..

  • A new sense of purpose 

    Depending on what stage of life you’re in, looking back might bring new hopes and dreams to the surface. You might discover you yearn to do things you regret not doing earlier in life.

  • A better understanding of yourself

    Re-evaluating your life can cause you to look at things differently. You might find a new understanding of who you were, who you are, and who you want to be.

  • Self-esteem boost

    You will begin to realize your life had and has meaning. Writing your autobiography can get rid of those nagging feelings of self doubt and unworthiness.

My LifeJars Make Writing Your Autobiography Easier!

My LifeJars has an easy to use template and prompts that help create an outline for your story.

Did you know, you can also ask family members to contribute to your memories, in case you need help remembering certain things from your past?

One or two family or friends could be granted permissions to help review and edit your text, and help add photos and videos to your story.

Storing Your Important Documents In One Place

As much as we don’t like to think about dying, it’s important to make sure everything is in order for the family we leave behind. That’s where we step in to help. My LifeJars offers you a safe and secure online place to store everything your family needs when you’re no longer with them. It’s the safest place to keep a digital copy of your autobiography, so your story is protected and accessible to your loved ones. 

Our app is the perfect place to organize and share all of your important documents, like your last will and testament, your advance care directive, your health care proxy, your enduring power of attorney, and your enduring guardian. We make it simple for you to give access to all the people who will need this information in the future.

Create Your Forever FREE My LifeJars Account Now. It’s easy to do, offers you peace of mind and control of WHO can access your diary, vital documents, important information and passwords - and WHEN they can access them, NOW or in the FUTURE.