How to Write an Autobiography

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.