One of the greatest gifts that you can pass on to your children, grandchildren, friends, and loved ones is an autobiography. Writing the story of your life is not as difficult as it appears – we promise! In fact, you will likely be surprised at just how easy it is to create your own autobiography. Once you get rolling, one thought will lead to many others; before you know it, the words will come flooding out. Whether you’re an avid writer or an average Joe, you are undoubtedly the best person to tell the story of your life.
Create Your Own Autobiography
An autobiography differs from a journal, diary, or blog in that it is a connected narrative of the writer’s life. In addition, journals, diaries, and blogs tend to be written around the time that the events described take place. Autobiographies, on the other hand, are usually written after the fact. Of course, if you’ve already written about your life in another format, you can use your previous work within your autobiography. For example, you could insert snippets from the diary you kept as a teenager. Just reading your old writing could also give you ideas regarding what to include in your autobiography.
Now that you’ve decided to create your own autobiography, your first question is most likely, “What do I do now?” Write. That’s it. Don’t concern yourself with grammar, spelling, or minute details. Just put your thoughts down on paper or onto a computer. Allowing yourself to write freely will help your ideas flow unhindered.
If you’re having trouble putting pen to paper, you might appreciate some writing prompts. Check out the New York Times’s 500 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing for some inspiration. In addition, make a list of major moments in your life, especially events that changed the path of your life. For example: romances, births, deaths, career changes, educational opportunities, moves, vacations, tragedies, and wars. Include both the good times and the bad. If you’re having trouble writing about a particular subject, try jotting down a list of details about the topic and then coming back to it later. Sometimes it helps to mull over an idea for a night or two.
Photos, Mementos, and Family Members
Photographs and mementos make great additions to an autobiography. If your pictures are not already in digital form, consider scanning them to include them in your memoir. Photos are especially useful if you’re planning to spend some time writing about important people or moments in your life. Even if you don’t include them, simply looking through the photos can serve as a powerful memory tool.
Your Perspective on Historic Events
You’ve lived through some monumental events. Write about how those important events impacted you and your loved ones. People always say that every American of a certain age knows where they were when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Where were you? What about when the Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrated shortly after takeoff in 1986? What about 9/11? Intermingling these major events with your life story can add nuance.
You don’t have to organize your story chronologically. You could break it up by theme or simply write about major events. However, you may find it helpful to create an outline before you begin, noting what you would like to talk about and the details you don’t want to forget.
As you create your own autobiography, keep a notebook or phone with you at all times. As memories come to mind at unexpected and inconvenient times, you can jot down some quick notes so that you’re ready when you do sit down to write.
Rest assured that more people will read, enjoy, and appreciate your autobiography than you might think. And even if you don’t want to share your memories with others, simply putting them to paper can be a fulfilling experience on its own.
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