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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.


  • 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.
  • TIP: Be aware that the stories you include about others could adversely affect your relationship with them. Consider changing their names to protect their identities.
  • 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.
  • FACT: Actress Drew Barrymore wrote her autobiography, Little Girl Lost, when she was 14.

You Will Need

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

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