If you consider yourself a bibliomaniac, if you were given this as homework or if you simply like to write, today you will know how to write an autobiography, that is, a piece of writing that an author writes about himself about his experiences.just as there are tutorials for creative writing of novels, short stories or poems, we also have tricks to write this type of text.
Moreover, the fact of giving free rein to the pen (or the key) to make an autobiographical text, not only gives you the opportunity to practice your writing skills, but it is also a reflective process and self-knowledge that can bring you many benefits. In fact, one of the contributions that you will discover, knowing how to write an autobiography, is its therapeutic power.
So, in order for you to know how to write an autobiography, we explain in detail what are the steps to make an impeccable autobiography. At the end, we leave you with our favorite autobiography examples and some tips to improve your writing.
ready to boost your learning? read on!
1. Read a lot and put into practice what you have learned
Whether you want to know how to write an autobiography in elementary school, for college, to get to know yourself better, to leave a reminder for your family, or to publish a literary work you’re proud of, these 7 steps to make an autobiography will help you create a text with powerful storytelling.
One of the best ways to know how to write an autobiography is to have several references. The benefits of reading are not only to increase your knowledge, you will also expand your vocabulary, you will learn different styles and you will take care of your brain health.
read everything, mainly works of the genre you want to write! Later on we will leave you some examples of autobiographies and you will realize that the styles are very diverse and interesting. For now, don’t force yourself, start slowly to create the habit of reading.
All the inspiration you get from others will serve as an example of how to write an autobiography. The more you are exposed to the different styles that other authors have used to narrate the events of their lives, the more inspiration you will have to create your personal style and put it on paper.
You could also start by writing in other genres. Why not even try your hand at a literary screenplay? With our free online literary script template, you can work on ideas and concepts for the audiovisual world.
2. Select the information you are going to write in your autobiography
Our memory is not always 100%, right? That’s why, before you start writing without order with the risk of skipping important details, the first of the steps to elaborate an autobiography is to do a research about your life.
If you are learning how to write an autobiography for college or school, you can start your research by interviewing your parents or grandparents. They will remember events about your childhood or adolescence that you may not be as aware of.
If you want to learn how to write an autobiography for a book, we recommend that you brainstorm those events in your life that you want to explore (personal, professional, family, political, etc.). In fact, they don’t just have to be events, they can also be objects that you hold dear to your heart. Remember that the plot of Titanic began with the search for a necklace.
Organize them in a notebook, a timeline or, better yet, a mind map. This will ensure you have important dates, events and memories, and above all, you will have a structure to build on.
3. Choose the central conflict
Like any narrative text, to learn how to make an autobiography you need a good plot .take a look at the timeline or mind map you created in the previous step and define where to start, how to build the climax and what will be its resolution (the classic beginning, middle and end).
One way to choose what will be the central conflict of your autobiography is to think about what is the biggest obstacle you have faced in your life; perhaps the one that took you years to overcome. Here are two examples of famous autobiographies for you to see what their plot was:
The Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela. In this book, Mandela describes the events that led him to become the president of South Africa and one of the most recognized leaders of the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. He recounts his childhood, his education, personal aspects and the 27 years he spent in prison.
Live to tell the tale, by Gabriel García Márquez. This writer published his autobiography as a trilogy and, for this work, he focused on his family, school and his early years as a journalist and short story writer. It started from his childhood, went through his youth and ended with the marriage proposal he made to his wife.
4. Delimit your audience
why do you want to learn how to make an autobiography? are you studying the steps to make a school autobiography or are you a writer who wants to dabble in this genre?
Identifying who your audience is is one of the steps in crafting an autobiography that will help you define your writing style. but be careful! It’s not about adjusting your writing to please them, it’s about finding the best way to communicate your stories so they resonate and connect better with them .
Think about the following questions before you write:
who is going to read your text?
what do you have in common with the people who will read your story?
what would they like to know about you?
what can you teach them through your experiences?
If you have a defined purpose, it will be much easier for ideas to flow and therefore for people to connect with what you say in your autobiography.
5. Choose one of the following types of autobiography
From the sequence of steps to know how to make an autobiography, this is one of the most important. Depending on your audience and the information, you should select one of the types of autobiography that will allow you to best express your ideas, but also maintain the purpose of what you want to communicate.
Types of autobiography:
Short autobiography: does not delve into the author’s experiences. They are usually the best fit when you know how to write an autobiography in elementary school or college.
Full autobiography: includes more of the author’s experiences, but these depend on the author’s intention.
Memoirs: they are usually more specific and focus on an important stage of the author’s life.
Autobiographical novel: although it would be more a type of novel, this type of text mixes fiction with the reality of what the author has lived. It can be included as a protagonist or as a narrator.
Conceptual autobiography: the author uses his own experiences to develop a theme. remember the example of Stephen King’s As I Write: As he recounts his life, he teaches how to write. Another example of autobiography of someone important is the book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. It combines memoirs about how he did his duty as emperor of Rome, while teaching the thought of Stoicism, a philosophical current.
6. Create the first draft to learn how to make an autobiography
Continuing with the steps for writing an autobiography, this is the most creative one; it’s time to put into action everything you have already organized and included in the structure of your autobiography.
At first it may not flow or you may simply stagnate; don’t get frustrated! The best writers in the world had problems at some point in bringing their work to life; it’s normal.
If you are in that mental block that does not allow you to leave the blank page, here are some triggers to lose the fear of the key and start writing:
Define the starting point. you see, it doesn’t have to be from the moment you were born, you can choose any event or object to start your story. In the end, everything that has happened in your life is connected and has brought you to where you are today.
Create tension and suspense in your story. structure your story to lead from the starting point to the climax of the central conflict. Connect these dots through different personal anecdotes, thoughts and narratives about small successes or failures.
Don’t forget that your life doesn’t revolve around a single theme. Bring a broader perspective by including recurring aspects of your life that are not necessarily connected to your central conflict. For example, places you always visit, people who have been an important part of your life, hobbies or interests, etc.
Add a glimpse of your desires and thoughts as the story progresses. Think that all the experiences in your life have left you with a lesson, but that, while you were living them, they awakened certain feelings, fears and thoughts. Go back, reflect on them and include them in the text. This way your autobiography will be deeper and you will be able to connect better with your readers.
You can structure your autobiography in chapters. this way you can discuss some periods of your life or events that are related, even if they occurred at different times.
Close your autobiography by showing how you resolved the main conflict, if you are still working on it or, if you failed, what lesson it taught you.
And, if inspiration strikes you at a moment’s notice, take advantage of it. Do you already know any of the writing apps like Evernote? They can be quite useful if you don’t have an agenda or your laptop at hand. What you can’t forget is that you are writing for other people and for yourself.
7. Revise, edit and publish
The last step in making an autobiography is revising, editing and publishing:
Give it an inspiring title. if you don’t know how, here are some tips on how to create titles.
Check for spelling and grammatical errors and correct them if necessary.
Make sure that the events you described are correct, reflecting reality as accurately as possible. Otherwise, you would be entering the fiction genre.
Print your writing style in each paragraph.
that’s it! By following these 7 steps you have learned how to write an autobiography. Get down to work.
8. Characteristics of the autobiography
If you do not know what an autobiography (or personal biography) is, as its name suggests, it is a writing that an author makes about himself and his experiences. It is usually thought that this is one of the types of text used to talk about successes and triumphs, but it is also a resource to talk about problems and failures.
In this sense, to learn how to start writing an autobiography, the first step is for you to be transparent and find a comfortable and artistic way to reveal truths about yourself. We all have highs and lows, virtues and flaws, successes and mistakes. Therefore, showing them in your text will make it easier for readers to identify with you and your story.
Now, you are probably wondering what an autobiography is for, what are its characteristics and so on. That is why, in the following paragraphs, we will go into detail on these points.
In addition to being a method of self-knowledge, the purpose of the autobiography is to narrate part of the author’s life and to disclose specific facts about it: turning points, daily life, thoughts or learning, participation in events of social relevance, etc.
Therefore, sometimes these texts also serve to provide a point of view on a historical fact, a topic on which one wants to give an opinion or a lesson for the reader.
An example of autobiographical texts with which you can see how autobiography serves to teach something to the reader is the work As I Write by Stephen King.in it, this writer gives different tips for anyone to discover how to write a book or dare to create any other type of writing. This happens while King describes how he became a writer.
In addition, there is a very curious fact about it. According to The Mind is Wonderful, when you learn how to write an autobiography to capture your own experiences, you not only release your emotions. You also reduce stress, improve your self-esteem, develop self-control and find more motivation. Not to mention that you begin to write properly and master the art of storytelling.
So far it is clear that the writer is the one who writes about himself, his life and the most important events he has gone through so far. However, there are other characteristics of autobiography that you should know if you are interested in venturing into this particular literary genre.
Some of the main characteristics of autobiography are:
Generally, the facts are narrated chronologically and the themes or points of view are adjusted to this temporal mention.
The style of narration depends very much on the author’s intention. it is important to learn how to make an autobiography that your personality is revealed throughout the writing!
The autobiography shows only the facts that are relevant to the author. You do not have to describe all the details of his entire life.
Although the structure of an autobiography is narrative (beginning, middle and end), the author is free to choose the textual structure that best suits his or her style and purpose with the text.
The author can start the narration at any point in his life, it is not necessary to talk about his birth, he can go back to the past, go forward to the present and play with temporality. a useful tip on how to write an autobiography!
It is usually written in the first person. However, the author can create a character or talk about himself as an omniscient narrator.
Now, it is important to be clear about the differences between a biography and an autobiography. Therefore, before we go into the step-by-step on how to write an autobiography, we will expand on what a biography and autobiography are in the following section.
9. Differences between biography and autobiography
Many people often confuse the terms and think they are the same thing, but there are several differences between biography and autobiography.
The writers of the text: in biography, it is one or more writers who describe the life of someone in particular. For this reason, the third person is generally used in the writing, whereas in an autobiography it is the writer who narrates his or her own life. Which person is used in an autobiography? usually the first person is used, but there are authors who prefer to select one of the types of narrator (protagonist, witness, omniscient, observer, etc.).
The purpose of the creation of the text: although some characteristics of the autobiography are similar to the structure of the professional profile like the one you would put in your LinkedIn profile or in your CV (both try to highlight the author), the purposes of its creation are different.in the autobiography, you seek to highlight personal events with the goal of telling a story to get from point A to point B. On the other hand, learning how to create a professional profile is essential to stand out in the working or academic world.
10. Tips for writing an autobiography
how to write the best autobiography? It doesn’t just take discipline and organization, it also takes practice and attention to detail. Here are some tips to help you know how to write an autobiography:
Don’t limit yourself to using only the experiences you chose in the steps for making an autobiography. It may happen that as you write, other of your experiences will be useful for the arguments of your work. However, do not lose the purpose of showing that information. Otherwise, you will confuse your reader.
Your reader must be interested from the beginning to the end. Avoid cliché phrases, redundant information and over-adjectivation when writing. Always remember that less is more.
Although inspiration is important, it is also important to maintain a schedule and rhythm of work. This way, you will be able to finish writing your autobiography on time, but you will also acquire new habits. Especially if you want to become a writer.
do you lose focus easily? use the pomodoro time management technique; 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest. There are apps that use this same technique to make the most of your time and concentrate like Forest.
When you’re done, proofread your text for writing and spelling errors. And, if you want, ask someone else to read your autobiography and give you feedback. Feedback is good even if you already know how to do an autobiography.
didn’t turn out the way you expected? don’t worry, you can start over and try a different style of writing and a different approach to the information you want to include in one of the types of autobiography.
With these tips on how to write your autobiography, you will be able to have that text you are longing for. As a bonus track, in the following section we will tell you about the best examples of autobiography so you can learn even more about this genre with these books. stay and read on!
11. Examples of autobiographies
If you still have doubts about how to make an autobiography, these are some interesting examples you can check out to build your text. they are great!
1. A Promised Land, Barack Obama
do you like stories that inspire change and are looking for an example of a linear autobiography? This book by the former president of the United States tells the trajectory he lived from his youth and how he managed to position himself as the first black president of one of the world’s powers. It is considered the best autobiographical book of 2020.
2. Rosinka’s Meadow, Gudrum Pausewang
This is an autobiographical novel in which the author takes the voice of her mother to relate parts of her childhood and her family’s experience in a war environment. It is also an example of an autobiographical text that works as a critique of the society of the time and makes the reader question the relationship between rural and city life.
3. An Autobiographical Essay, Jorge Luis Borges
This work published by The New Yorker is the best example of a short autobiography. In its pages an important lecture given by the author about his life is mentioned and adapted to describe his personality and literary skills.
It is considered the autobiography of someone famous: one of the most important Latin American writers. It is a must-consult text for those who want to know more about his life.
4. You don’t know how hard it is for me to write this, Olivia Rueda
One of the best-selling autobiographical books is by Olivia Rueda. Here she tells what her life was like before suffering an epileptic seizure and after, as well as everything she struggled to regain her ability to write, for example. Hence the name of the book.
5. The echo of the shots, Edurne Portela
In this autobiography, Edurne Portela tells about her childhood and youth memories, linked to the violence of a terrorist gang. This memoir also contains many reflections on politics, societies and culture in general.
6. The Year of the Monkey, Patti Smith
what could be better than to combine the experience of getting to know in depth how to make an autobiography with the reading of a book of this genre that is centered on the life of an artist?
In this autobiography by Patti Smith, the writer tells about her creative process, how she carries it out, which were and are the influences that marked her when making art (as a writer, poet, artist). Undoubtedly, this is one of the most recommended options for art lovers.
7. A Brief History of My Life, Stephen Hawking
Cosmologist Stephen Hawking also has his own autobiography. It tells everything about his life, from his childhood in London to his rise to global fame. It also contains little-known photographs and characteristic humor. ideal for those who follow Hawking and are interested in learning how to make an autobiography out of reading such a spectacular book!
8. Paris Was a Party, Ernest Hemingway
a fan of Ernest Hemingway’s short stories? The super renowned writer has his own autobiography, which dates back to 1964. It is centered, as its title indicates, on his memories when he lived in Paris, France, his influences, the war and the memory of characters like Scott Fitzgerald, for example.
9. Farewell to all this, Robert Graves
Another of the examples of autobiographies you can read is Goodbye to All This by Robert Graves. It is a farewell to England, when he decided to go to live abroad. There, the writer recalls experiences and moments with the aim of giving closure to that chapter of his life to start a new one.
You already know some of the autobiographies you can read to not only nourish yourself with knowledge about these people, but also to find new ways of narrating, review the structure of the story and much more. what did you think of these options? Read on to discover more options.
10. I am Malala, Malala Yousafzai
An example of an autobiography is the book I am Malala. There, the author tells how she fought for the right to education, refusing to be silenced. She raised her voice. In the book, she tells about her childhood story, before, during and after the Taliban.
If you like stories that inspire, of courageous and fighting women, you can’t miss this autobiography. It will not only serve you as a guide to delve deeper into this literary genre, but will also fill you with inspiration.
11. Autobiography, Agatha Christie
According to The Times, this autobiography is “a gripping read that reads with passion”. In this book, Christie tells what her happiest childhood years were like, what her marriages were like, what her youth was like in relation to romantic adventures and much more.
If you want to learn more with examples of autobiographies like this one, what better than to read your own from a writer who has had an extensive career?
12. Memoirs of a Formal Young Woman, Simone De Beauvoir
This is another example of an autobiography by none other than Simone De Beauvoir. This book is only the first part of her autobiography, where she tells about her early stages of learning until meeting Jean Paul Sastre. a fascinating story!
And these have been some of the main examples of autobiographies that you can find in online and physical book stores. what do you think of them? Choose the one that catches your attention and buy one to enter new worlds and learn more about how to make an autobiography.