How to Write an Autobiography

Committing your life story to paper doesn't have to end in a book deal to be considered successful. What really matters is the insight you gain along the way.

You will need

  • Memories
  • Notes
  • Theme
  • Conversations with loved ones
  • Honesty

Step 1 Start randomly Jot down the memories that remain most vivid in your mind — even if they don’t seem significant. Chances are if you’ve remembered them all this time, they are the memories that are most meaningful to you.

Step 2 Review your notes Review your notes to see if there is a theme to your memories. Many autobiographies have one.

Step 3 Organize your thoughts Figure out how you want to organize your story. You don’t have to start at the beginning; you launch the book with a defining event, or even start with the present, and then go back in time. Or organize your life story according to themes.

Step 4 Talk to loved ones Talk to friends and family members to fill in memory gaps and to gain different perspectives on your experiences.

Step 5 Be descriptive Once you start writing, write descriptively. Don’t just chronicle the major events in your life; transport the reader with vivid accounts of how everything looked, smelled, felt, and sounded. Include dialogue: Snippets of conversations can really make memories come alive.

Step 6 Be honest Above all, be honest. An autobiography won’t ring true to your readers — or be cathartic for you — if you don’t bare your soul.