How To Write An Autobiography 2023: Ultimate Guide With Tips
Famous writers love to write biographies of people who have a lot of stories to tell to the world. That's cool. Still, there is no one who can tell your story in the best way than you. When you write your own story, it becomes an autobiography.
The term autobiography has an ancient and scattered history. Historians found examples of autobiography in the 1st century BCE. Although in 1797, the term was first used by William Taylor in an English periodical named ‘The Monthly Review.’ After that, writing autobiographies became common among famous people.
Today, you will learn what an autobiography is, the types of autobiographies, how to write it, and many more things in detail. So, continue reading.
The Types of Autobiography
Autobiographies come in a variety of forms and are written for a variety of reasons. Before selecting the structure for your autobiography, you must determine why you are writing it.
Here is a quick overview of each to help you decide which form of autobiography is ideal for you. We have also added some examples so that you can understand them easily.
A standard autobiography tells the entire story of a person's life, from conception to the present. This kind of autobiography is preferred by authors since their lives are unique and interesting.
I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai
The Story of My Life – Helen Keller
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – Benjamin Franklin
A memoir describes certain events or occasions in the author's life. The memoir focuses on or emphasizes just one part of the person's life, in contrast to the other categories, which cover their full history. It is first-person singular and written from the author's point of view.
David Copperfield is regarded as Charles Dickens' memoir. It is not just a memoir, though. It is thought to be the author's cloaked autobiography.
Becoming – Michelle Obama
When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
Eat, Pray, Love – Elizabeth Gilbert
Many people discover that autofiction is much simpler when writing a memoir. In this manner, they may mould the circumstances into a captivating three-act framework that readers will like.
People who prefer to read about real occurrences will be happy if the blurbs claim it is "inspired by a true story."
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
Open City – Teju Cole
Monkey Boy – Francisco Goldman
A subgenre of a memoir called a spiritual autobiography. This kind of writing traces the author's spiritual development. Whether you consider yourself spiritual or religious, these can provide a fascinating insight into people's life.
From these stories, you can understand how experiences, particularly tragedy, can influence ideas.
The Measure of a Man – Sidney Poitier
Autobiography of a Yogi – Paramhansa Yogananda
Surprised by Joy – C. S. Lewis
Make sure you understand all these types before start articulating autobiographies.
How to Write an Autobiography?
Before you start to write an autobiography, you must know the autobiography definition. When the author narrates their own biographies, they become their autobiographies. Now let’s understand how to craft one.
Undoubtedly, autobiography writing is a challenging as well as an exciting task to do. Still, if you plan before writing, everything will become easier. Read out the following step-by-step guide.
Start by brainstorming
It is the key to writing successful autobiographies. These kinds of write-ups have a specific set of audiences. So, you have to compile all your life experiences and refine them by identifying their compelling power.
When doing this 'sorting memories' step, try covering all your life's episodes. From childhood to the present day, break those into phases. After that, identify the most unusual ones and write them down.
Draft an AutobiographicalOutline
Start building a story around the most interesting moments from your ideas. You may keep your readers' attention from page one to the last page of your book if you space out the significant events in your life. The process resembles an outline for a book in general.
Do Your Research
When you've finished making the outline, conduct some research paper. It will help you to remember details about the time you're writing about. You can speak with friends and family members to remember tiny details.
No one can recall their complete life history, and remembering their childhood days are really challenging. So, you must be prepared to conduct some more cultural studies.
Write Your First Draft
Your research will give you many key points with details you can use in the write-up. As the first draft is not your final, try to not break your thinking flow. You can always rectify those in your second or final draft.
Proofreading services is always a hectic phase, but as you can't avoid it, take a few days off after finishing the piece. Make sure there are no silly grammar or spelling mistakes. Also, try to strengthen your narratives as much as you can while proofreading.
Think of yourself as a reader and ask, “What will I look for if I read a biography?” Answer that question and add those specifics in your autobiography.
Write Your Next Draft
On the basis of the notes you've made for yourself, write a second draft. Present this second draft to friends you can trust when you have finished it. Their objective viewpoints will provide you with crucial insight into your job that you are unable to obtain on your own. If you want, you can also employ a professional editor.
Refine Your Writing
Revisions should be followed by fresh readings from fresh eyes. Throughout the course, you will hone your writing abilities and autobiographical knowledge. The goal is to develop a final draft far superior to the first.
If you follow this guide, you can also fulfil your autobiography writing dream.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in an Autobiography
As you already know how to start an autobiography, you must understand what can make it bad. In other words, you must know which mistakes you must avoid. Let’s find out.
It’s impossible to remember every event you experience in a lifetime. Although proper planning can make things easier for you. Try to create a list of the experiences that have shaped who you are and the times when you felt like life was getting boring.
It is more about going down memory lane than making up stories and being imaginative. Consider this a necessary stage in the writing process rather than a wasted phase. When someone plans a tale for a work of fiction, there is more latitude in the direction the story can go.
In an autobiography, you can only talk about things that truly happened in real life. Take a moment to begin planning, even if you want to start writing.
Many writers are accustomed to working alone and with little assistance from others. When writing an autobiography, you should consult with your loved ones and close friends.
Contrasting what you remember about your life with what others remember about theirs is wonderful. Perhaps you told them a story, or they had an event that altered their lives but not so much yours.
While writing a professional bio requires technical skills, an autobiography has to be entertaining and fascinating. Listen to what individuals have to say about what they think belongs in your story.
Rushing the Process
You must not cram while writing an autobiography. Expecting to chronicle your entire life in one month is unrealistic. More time is needed to fully present your life. Take your time. Don't lose the motivation, but making perfection always takes time.
You don't need to lead an exciting life to be able to write an engaging autobiography. Additionally, there is no need for you to include information that had no bearing on your life. Don't include trivial occurrences. Some people simply want their lives to be represented by a large book. Instead, compose a condensed version that simply highlights the key points.
Biography and autobiography are not the same things. If you want to add tales about other people, you must get their permission. Do not disrespect others by using your book as a platform.
Even if you didn't intend it to be embarrassing, you still need their consent to include the people in your write-up. They may not want it highlighted in your autobiography just because it changed the course of your life.
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Examples of Autobiography
You can find inspiration and ideas for writing your autobiography from the following top autobiography examples.
An Autobiography (1974) by Angela Davis
Eminent activist Angela Davis first published her autobiography “An Autobiography” in 1974. Although the expanded edition saw the sunlight in 2022. Needless to say, this autobiography is a very interesting work. You get to know from Angela’s childhood in Alabama to become one of the most wanted escapees.
Finding My Virginity (2017) by Richard Branson
In 2010, Sir Richard Branson published a memoir, ' Losing My Virginity.' His autobiography ‘Finding My Virginity’ completes entrepreneur Richard’s radical life journey.
My Life (2004) by Bill Clinton
The autobiography of Bill Clinton is still a bestseller. He shares his life journey from childhood to being president.
My Life on the Road (2015) by Gloria Steinem
‘My Life on the Road’ is also a New York Times bestseller. It is based on Gloria’s childhood to her activist days, but she has made travel the main theme of her autobiography.
Give these beautiful autobiographies a read if you want to change your perspectives.
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Essential Elements of an Autobiography
An autobiography demands to share all the crucial life experiences of an individual in detail. However, it doesn’t mean you have to share your daily life’s tiny details. The following elements will clear your doubts regarding an autobiography. You need to cover all of them.
Personal Origin Story
You can mention your hometown, your family background, a few significant relatives, and close friends. Also, you can add the turning points in your educational career.
Crucial Facts of Life Narrative
You can explore the turning points of your life. These can be the most interesting things in your personal development. Also, the ideas that change your points of view toward the world.
Vision of the Future
You have to add your ideas and thoughts about your future. For example, how you are going to examine your life under a magnifying glass, and that is very important.
Discussion of the Meaning of Life
Your own collection of ideas and experiences is your autobiography. So, you have the scope to use your opinions to discuss the meaning of life so that the readers can understand your journey.
In the end, you can close your autobiography by saying something inspiring from your experiences.
People love to know about other people's lives, mostly celebrities. If they find something inspiring or unusual in yours, they will accept it too. So, don’t forget to use all these elements.
Autobiography vs Biography: What's the Difference?
Although both biography and autobiography narrate the story of an individual. They have limitless differences. Let us make things easier for you. In an autobiography, an individual crafts their personal life experiences.
On the other hand, in a biography, an individual composes another person's story. However, biographies and autobiographies have some things in common too.
Similarities Between Biographies & Autobiographies
- Main Purpose– Both biography and autobiography share the same purpose. Both of them talk about an individual's life story.
- The genre of the Story– There is no space for made-up stories in biographies and autobiographies. As both autobiographies and biographies are about one person's life experiences, they are the work of nonfiction.
- Famous Subjects– Biographies and autobiographies frequently feature the lives of individuals who are well-known for their accomplishments. For example, you can take celebrities, sports persons, corporate and political figures, and other high-profile persons.
Now we will talk about the major differences between biographies and autobiographies. So, let’s clarify the points between autobiography and biography –
The viewpoint from which the story is written is the key distinction between a biography and an autobiography.
When a person writes an autobiography, she describes her own life. On the other hand, a person writes a biography when they want to tell another person's life story.
A biography is a piece of writing that the author has written about another person's life after doing research and gathering data. The author may conduct interviews with the topic, look up historical documents, and gather additional materials.
In contrast, the author of an autobiography is the topic and writes about their own experiences, feelings, and thoughts.
The majority of the time, biographies are written from a neutral point of view. Based on research and a variety of sources, the author makes an effort to provide a thorough and accurate portrayal of the subject. The author intents to give us a fair and impartial idea.
On the other hand, autobiography presents a subjective perspective because the author describes their own experiences, memories, and feelings. They may be skewed by their unique viewpoint.
Biographies frequently detail a person's complete life. They might also explore the subject's childhood and larger historical or social context.
Autobiographies frequently concentrate on the writer's own life and offer more in-depth insights into their intimate connections, experiences, and reflections.
Most biographies are written in the third person, referring to the subject by name or pronoun. The writer keeps a certain distance and objectivity.
Autobiographies, however, are typically written in the first person, with the author addressing the reader directly and using pronouns like "I" and "me." The storytelling approach in autobiographies is private and intimate.
Biographies are frequently published to give a thorough account of a famous person's life. They may seek to evaluate the subject's significance, influence, and impact in a given area or time.
Contrarily, autobiographies give people the chance to share their own experiences. Authors can share their distinct viewpoints, personal development, and life lessons.
Here is a chart for a better understanding –
An external author writes a biography.
An author writes his own autobiography.
The protagonist of the story
An objective point of view
Subjective point of view
Tells the story of another person’s experience.
Tells own experience.
For example, “He found that idea impeccable.”
For example, “I was keenly interested to find out the true meaning of the idea.”
Offering a comprehendible idea
Authors tell their own story
FAQs On Autobiography
Q.1. What is an autobiography?
An autobiography is a kind of write-up that an individual writes about their own life. Here the author is, of course, the protagonist or the subject of the story. So, whenever you write, you have to write your autobiography in the first person. In other words, an autobiography is a collection of events in chronological order.
Q.2. Do people write autobiographies?
An autobiography is when people write their own stories using their names in the first person. There are no boundaries for writing autobiographies. It can be a collection of unusual, dramatic, factual, or significant events of one’s life.
Q.3. How is an autobiography different from a memoir?
An autobiography and a memoir have many differences. Autobiographies are collections of an individual’s personal life experience from start to end. On the other hand, memoirs have narrower settings. It’s just a specific part of one’s experience, or you can say memoirs focus on the memories, feelings, and emotions of the author of a specific time.
Q.4. Are all autobiographies written by famous people?
Although it seems that writing autobiographies are kind of reserved for famous people.
However, in reality, anyone can write about their personal experiences of their life from start to end. Here the fact is that those autobiographies are considered great when they have something to inspire people. Out-of-the-ordinary experiences make good autobiographies.
Q.5. What makes a good autobiography?
There are some rules for writing autobiographies. If you want to compose an excellent autobiography, you need to make sure your narratives are clear and chronological, from birth to the present day. Also, you must ensure you use all the details carefully. Try to avoid self-indulgence.
Q.6. How do I start writing my own autobiography?
Writing your autobiography will be easier if you follow our suggestions. Here are they. Let’s have a look –
- a) Create a timeline of the most crucial events of your life.
- b) Make sure you know the main characters of your life story after you.
- c) Keep ready your examples
- d) Make your outline ready
- e) Compose your first draft
- f) Edit and proofread.
Q.7. Can an autobiography be fictionalized or embellished?
Autobiographies and fictionalized or embellished autobiographies are different things. When the author doesn't change anything about their personal experiences, that remains an autobiography. But when the author uses fictionalized characters or events to narrate their own stories, that can be considered fictionalized autobiographies. For example, Charles Dicken’s “Great Expectation" is a fictionalized autobiography, whereas Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” is an autobiography.
Q.8. Are there any legal or ethical considerations when writing an autobiography?
When writing an autobiography, authors often use the names of famous persons. So, one thing you have to keep in mind is that there are some factors that can take you in the middle of some legal issues. For example, invasion of privacy, defamation, improper publicity, etc. So, be careful and don’t exaggerate things in an autobiography.
Q.9. Can I write an autobiography even if I'm not skilled?
There is no shame in writing your own stories. Anyone can write about their personal life experiences. Although most people think that autobiographies are only restricted to celebrities but if you have stories to inspire people, you can make an attempt to write your own autobiography. If you are not a skilled writer, you can take the assistance of a professional writer to craft your words properly.
Q.10. Can I read any famous or influential autobiographies for inspiration?
There are various famous or influential autobiographies that you can read for inspiration and overcome challenges. Here are a few examples. Please have a look –
- The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
- Wings of Fire – APJ Abdul Kalam
- Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
I Am Ozzy – Ozzy Osbourne
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