How to Write an Autobiography 2022: The Ultimate Guide with Pro Tips
If you are a student, the chances are that you will face such an assignment one way or another, as it is a common type of academic task assigned at schools, colleges, and universities.
Being able to depict your life on paper has much more to it than there seems. It is a great way to discover yourself and learn how to introduce yourself to others, which will come in handy in many other spheres of your life. Also, it will come in handy if you are a writer. Often, authors of books, articles, poetry, and other publications need to publish their own autobiographies to let the world get to know them.
Although writing a good autobiography may seem difficult, it is only difficult when you don’t know what steps to take to handle the task. In this post, our graduate paper writing service has collected key steps, rules, examples, and tips that will guide you through the process of writing. By the end of this blog, you will be able to craft a flawless piece about yourself. Let’s dive in!
What Is an Autobiography
Before we can move on to our writing tips, it is important to define what an autobiography is and specify its different types of good writing. In a nutshell, an autobiography is a self-written piece that reflects the timeline of an author’s life story. Such articles are written in narrative form and can serve several purposes — depending on the specific type of writing.
Generally, there are four kinds of autobiographical writing:
- Autobiography – This is a long and complete story about the author's full life. This type of writing covers everything from birth to the present. Often, the purpose of writing an autobiography is: to share a person's life path with a broad audience, to leave your mark, to reconcile the past, or to make your memories last.
- Autobiographical essay for college – This type of autobiographical writing is typically submitted along with the rest of your admission package. This paper aims to introduce yourself to admission officers and convince them that you are the right fit for their educational facility.
- Memoirs – Memoirs are similar to autobiographies with a single difference – they don't have to cover a person's entire life. Instead, you can narrow your focus to a memoir's most exciting and important past events including as many details as you can.
- Personal essay – This is the last and shortest type of autobiographical writing. Simply put, it is just an essay about yourself. Unlike other essay types, this one is more intimate and emotional; it requires you to share personal experiences. As a rule, such a paper focuses on one specific event, a period of time, a person, etc. This is a common type of academic assignment in schools and colleges.
These are the basic types of autobiographical writing. However, each of them has individual traits and, thus, may require a different approach. Therefore, this article will focus specifically on writing a good personal or autobiographical essay.
As was mentioned earlier, reading a few good examples of autobiographies can give you an additional burst of inspiration and help find the right tone for your own writing. And you will say 'Yes, I can do my paper'! Here are a few brilliant examples to help you generate fresh ideas to get rolling:
Autobiographical Essay Structure
Although the exact structure of your text will depend on the chosen type of autobiographical writing, there are some basic principles to bear in mind. First, similar to any other kind of essay, an autobiographical one should consist of three main blocks:
The introduction of any text has three main objectives: to introduce the reader to the topic of your text, to present your core idea, and to drive the reader’s attention (i.e., to make them want to read further). Therefore, this part of your text should be concise and straight to the point. As a rule, intros should be between one to three sentences long.
A good way to use an intro in your flawless autobiography is to outline your general portrait and to make an intriguing statement that will encourage the reader to continue reading.
The body of your text is its main and biggest part, which basically tells your story. Unlike the intro or conclusion, the body doesn’t have any specific requirements in terms of length. You can make it as long as you need to uncover the main events of your life. The only rules applicable to this section of your text are that it should be:
- Well-structured – each paragraph should focus on a specific event or a period of time;
- Clear – make sure your text is easy to read and understand;
- Logical – since you are writing an autobiography, it is vital to present facts in a logical sequence and with smooth transitions between every paragraph.
An introduction is what makes people interested in your story and engages them to read the whole thing, but the conclusion is what leaves a lasting impression — therefore, you want to make it robust. The conclusion of your autobiography is a great place to assess your life, consider the lessons you’ve learned, and state how they took you to where you are now. Like your intro, your conclusion shouldn’t be too long. Keep it clear and concise for a good story.
An essential part of writing an interesting story is creating a proper title page. Just like selecting a font and font size, title page requirements could vary based on the standards of the institution you are writing for. However, there are some commonly established rules for making a title page. The following information usually goes on the title page:
- Your phone number
- Date of creation
- Class, you are writing this for (optional)
The title and the author section must always be separate from the contact information and the rest. It’s usually located in the middle of the paper, while the rest of the info goes in the bottom right corner.
This is an approximate autobiography template. In the following parts of our guide, we will focus more on the details and tips for writing a flawless autobiographical essay.
Literary Forms of Autobiography
Autobiographies with a central topic frequently go beyond just telling a person's life narrative. Through this storytelling style, the author may be attempting to communicate particular ideas or thoughts that they feel are important to share. Again, the objective is to express your views and opinions.
An author of a religious autobiography is someone who has or has had a relationship with God. Before being redeemed by God, the individual goes through several events and circumstances. They could also discuss their actions prior to being rescued.
In an intellectual autobiography, you describe your path and the significant events that shaped who you are today. You consider the factors that have influenced your viewpoint and share them with the audience. The person reading this is curious about how you came to be who you are.
The goal of a fictional autobiography is to accurately depict the author's experiences. To preserve people's identities as some of it has been fabricated. Actions in this kind of autobiography may be inflated or altered for artistic reasons.
How to Start an Autobiography: 8 Steps for the Writing Process
Writing your life story can be quite frustrating. Many people find it hard to look at themselves from a different angle. However, if you are up for the challenge, these tips will guide you through the step by step process of writing an autobiography:
Step 1: Find an Example
The first thing you should do before you rush to begin writing is to study one or a few examples of autobiographies written by famous people. This step has several purposes: to get a clear example of what a flawless autobiography should look like, to grasp the general tone, structure, and format—applicable to this form of writing, and to get inspired.
Just in case you have no ideas of whose autobiography to start with, here are a few inspiring examples:
- The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin
- Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela
- The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
- A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
- Dreams from my Father, Barack Obama
Step 2: Write Down Your Most Important Memories
Your next step is to remember everything that matters to you. Think of remarkable people, unique experiences, key events, and other things that have influenced your life the most. Recall all the worthwhile details and make a list of them.
Step 3: Pick One Point You Want to Focus On
Generally, you would have to write about your whole life in an autobiography. However, since we are focusing on tips for great essay writing about your own life, you have to pick a focus point.
In an autobiographical essay writing, you will be required to focus on a single event, person, memory, place, etc. Therefore, you should pick one point from your list. It can be hard to decide what to write about, so take your time and think of what will be the most engaging for your readers.
Step 4: Ask the Right Questions
Writing about your own life can be confusing. You may find it hard to brainstorm ideas and maintain inspiration. In order to make sure that you won’t get stuck wondering what ideas to include in your essay, here is a list of questions that should set you on the right track:
- How would you describe yourself with three adjectives?
- What famous quotes describe you and your life best?
- What is the ethnic and social background of your family?
- Who and what made you who you are today?
- What are your biggest achievements so far?
- What are your main goals?
- What are your main strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your key values?
- What are your worst and best memories of your childhood?
- What has been the most memorable day for you?
- What are your relations with your family members?
- What is the most vital life lesson you’ve learned so far?
- What fault could you never forgive yourself or others for?
Answering these questions should help to find inspiration and generate brilliant ideas for your autobiographical essay writing.
Step 5: Create a Detailed Outline
Although many people skip this step, writing a good outline can make the writing process simpler and more productive. There are plenty of reasons that indicate the importance of planning. Most importantly, writing an outline helps you follow the right structure and sequence and helps ensure that you won’t miss out on important details.
Here is a sample outline template that can come in handy:
- ~ Basic background information that engages readers
- ~ Thesis statement – main idea and key points
- ~ Thesis statement
- ~ Supporting ideas (details, facts, reasons, and a smooth transition between every idea)
- Summary - use this outline for every paragraph in the main body. Include at least 3 paragraphs.
- ~ Restate your thesis statement
- ~ Summary of all key ideas
- ~ Conclusion (lessons you’ve learned, personal thoughts, etc.)
Step 6: Write Your First Draft
Once you have a specific plan in mind, you can create your first draft. Follow your outline to ensure that you don’t miss anything important, and don’t rush.
Step 7: Proofread!
Although many people neglect its importance, proofreading is the key to success. It doesn’t matter how interesting your story is if the text is full of mistakes. Therefore, be sure to allocate enough time for proofreading and carefully check your essay for spelling, punctuation, grammar, style, and other mistakes.
Step 8: Ask for a Feedback
When you write an autobiography, no matter how carefully you proofread your text, there is always a chance that you’ve missed out on something important. That’s why it is always a good idea to ask someone else to read your essay and share their thoughts on it. In addition, you can request help from close friends or family members. They should be able to look at your autobiography from a different perspective and notice things that you haven’t.
Writing Techniques to Use in an Autobiography
Here is the list of some techniques you may find useful.
- A clear narrative
Remembering that autobiographies are still literature is important when discussing them. There should be a unifying storyline to link all of these experiences, regardless if they may not adhere to traditional creative narrative techniques. It should seem like a tale rather than just a series of disconnected incidents.
- Attention to detail and key points
Detail-oriented autobiographies are advisable. We read this book to learn about the writer's unique history, so we expect interesting facts and key points from the subject's life. For reference, what career did they pursue, and where did they receive an education?
- Chronological order
The majority of autobiographies are written in the following order: birth, childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, maturity, and senior years. Remember that this sequence does not always apply to all autobiographies. Autobiographies can be quite extensive and exhaustive, covering every aspect of a person’s life.
The Perks of Writing About Your Life Story
When you write a good story of your life, it'd be great to include:
- Helps you establish your place
You don't need to be well-known or a professional writer to document your life's journey. Not all legacies are intended to reach a broad audience. Instead, most people leave behind a legacy in family history that is more humble in scope—with the people they have a lasting impact on.
The entire autobiography will be passed from one generation to the next. Admittedly, life events written on paper cannot easily be wiped out. A life story is a perfect tool for establishing one's authority in the realm of the earlier days.
- You can reflect on your life lessons and learn more about yourself
An autobiography is a form of learning about oneself. It gives the writer space to delve into their experiences and reflect on their entire life. As an outcome, self-knowledge develops while the adventure gains clarity. The detailed account gives the audience a window into the enchanted self-exploration process. Perhaps, the readers will also find their route due to this journey.
- It can be a powerful tool for therapy
The writing process of an autobiography involves the writer examining their feelings at different points in their own life. But the process of writing an autobiography looks back on the author's life with the advantage of retrospect. The recovery period might then start as a result. Numerous sensations, both good and bad, abound in human psychology. Ultimately, writing helps to clear up such feelings and attain awareness.
- You are given a fresh feeling of direction.
An autobiography gives the author the chance to consider their life's purpose. Additionally, it enables the reader to evaluate their own. It helps people determine the meaning of their lives. Life, as we experience it, frequently feels frustratingly disjointed. It seemed more like a collection of mismatched storyboards from several movies than the storyline of a cohesive movie.
Writing your life story might help your life feel more linked and worthwhile. One of the main advantages of writing your story is this. A fresh insight, appreciation, and even tenderness for the life you've lived are brought about by reliving your past and viewing it from a distinct viewpoint.
Top Tips to Make Your Autobiography Look Flawless
Hopefully, our guide will show you the right way and help you get started. Now, here are a few more tips to help make your essay perfect:
- Keep it short. You don't need to write your full biography, so there is no need to write a long piece. Try to keep your essay clear and concise.
- Write from the first person perspective. While it may be inappropriate in other papers, first-person narration is perfect for autobiographical essays. After all, you are telling your life story, so it is necessary to make it personal.
- Search for examples. Even if you have never dealt with this type of task before, looking at some examples will help you get some ideas about autobiographical writing. Here are a few good examples to look at:
- ~ The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Mahatma Gandhi
- ~ Chronicles, Vol 1, Bob Dylan
- ~ I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- ~ Agatha Christie: An Autobiography, Agatha Christie
- ~ Autobiography of Mark Twain, Mark Twain
- ~ On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
- ~ The Road Ahead, Bill Gates
- ~ Faster than Lightning, Usain Bolt
- ~ A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
- ~ My autobiography, Charlie Chaplin
- Don't make it trivial. You shouldn't be afraid of adding your personal voice to this piece. If you make your essay trivial and follow a standardized writing pattern, it can turn out dull.
- Add vivid details. Since this writing is meant to be emotional, you should add as many sensory details as possible. By adding such information, you will keep your readers even more engaged as they will be able to feel and see every part of your life story.