Autobiography: What It Is and How to Write One

autobiography

Have you ever wanted to document your life? Do you want to share your experiences with future generations? Then, consider writing an autobiography! Coming from the Greek autos meaning “self” and bios meaning “write”, autobiographies set out to capture one’s existence. In today’s blog, we’ll talk about what this anecdote-filled book comprises of, and how you, too, can pen one. 

What is An Autobiography?

Although the term autobiography only came in to use in the 19th century, humans have been recounting moments in their lives for years. Sometimes these novels are fictional like Catcher in the Rye or Jane Eyre. Giving the character the opportunity to address both the internal and external responses they are experiencing helps connect the reader to the material. However, this blog will be focusing primarily on non-fictional autobiography. 

Biographers (writers who document other people’s lives) might use a variety of different sources when constructing their subject’s narrative. However, autobiographers usually rely solely on memory. Thus, autobiographies are very subjective in nature and can not always be trusted to be factually correct. The author is given the opportunity to rewrite history.  

How to Write One

Autobiographies don’t have to be something that you share with the world. Immortalising your experiences is a great way to remember fond memories and leave a documentation of the past for future generations. So, grab a pen and let’s get started recollecting!

Structure

Before going into the small details, first you want to decide the structure and trajectory of your autobiography. Consider when you want to start the narrative and when you want to end it. Compile all experiences that you think are of interest / shaped you into the person you are today. Not all of these memories will make it to the final draft but they might help to recall other experiences and details. 

Recollection

Remembering moments that happened a long time ago can be difficult. Try out these writing exercises to tap into your subconscious using your five sense!

  1. Sight. Looking at photographs can help to jog memories. Write down the people you see and where the photo was taken. Then, try to see if you can recall other details like smell and touch. Next, write down what you remember before and after taking the picture. 
  2. Taste. Cook a favourite dish from your childhood. What do you feel when going through the steps of the memory? What images or thoughts does eating the food elicit? 
  3. Touch. Hold an item of importance from your past. It cook be a toy or a teddy bear. If you’re trying to remember a specific person, try sitting in their chair or wearing their shoes. Close your eyes and try to image the other senses you experienced in the past. 

Writing

When writing an autobiography, here are some key elements to keep in mind:

  1. Have details about your personal story. Collect and remember information like your hometown, family history, and important childhood locations.
  2. Focus on the experiences that changed your life whether that be big or small. What shaped you in to the person you are today? Don’t be afraid to include stories of failure. 
  3. Write in the first-person. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and connect with the reader. Even if that reader is you. 

About the Author

Lydia B.

Lydia B.

Lydia is a Gooroo Courses Tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership and online learning platform that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers math, English, ESL, Spanish tutoring, and more.