How to Write an Autobiography: The Complete Guide (2023)

January 16, 2023

how to write an autobiography explained

So your professor has asked you to give an account of your life but you have no idea where to start? You’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to write an autobiography that stands out and easily connects with your reader. Whether you have a clue about where to start or you have no idea what a biography written by oneself is all about, you’ll find this post quite helpful.

As a firsthand account of a writer’s life, an autobiography should be clear and compelling enough to offer a deeper level of intimacy to a reader of the story.

Our goal here is to help you learn:

  • What an autobiography is
  • The difference between an autobiography and a biography
  • The elements of an autobiography and
  • Steps to write a comprehensive autobiography fast

We’ll also share some tips you can use to make your autobiography as comprehensive as possible. Not to mention highlight the common mistakes that you should avoid.

With that said, let’s get started.

What Is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is a subcategory of a biography that speaks of someone’s life events. The events are written by the person himself.

Everything in an autobiography is true. A lot of people confuse between autobiographies and memoirs and that is because the two of them share several features.

What differentiates memoirs and autobiographies is, memoirs are written targeting specific times in life while an autobiography tells someone’s story from birth up to the time of writing.

Winnings, losses, and lessons are shared in autobiographies to make readers relate and keep them motivated. Autobiographies follow an order, they are specific on people, dates, times, events, and places.

An autobiography can be made by anyone you don’t necessarily have to be a celebrity to make one. Autobiographies can be written in diaries, tales, or novels.

Examples of autobiographies include Dream from My Father, Long Walk to Freedom, and A Moveable Feast by Barrack Obama, Nelson Mandela, and Ernest Hemingway respectively.

What are the Main Features of an Autobiography?

Since you know what an autobiography is, it is also important to know its features. With features in mind writing a biography will be easy. Here are some of the main features of an autobiography;

  • Events are written in order. They are specific about places, times, and dates. Events, places, and people are also real.
  • Autobiographies are usually written in the past tense. Apart from that, the writing can also use present and future tenses but at the very end.
  • The writing explores the good and bad the author experienced giving insights into the feeling, hopes, and thoughts of the author.
  • Relevant pictures can be included in an autobiography
  • Lastly, they should end with reflection and plan for what’s to come.

To ensure you write a good autobiography, compile a checklist of the features. They will help you write a great autobiography.

How to Structure an Autobiography

What is next is learning how to plan the autobiography. Below we show you how to structure the autobiography.

1. Have an Introduction

Like in essays, we use the introduction to grab the reader’s attention. The intro is also the showcases the theme and ideas of your autobiography.

Make sure the introduction is as short as possible and makes sense. In the intro, tell the readers things like your age, where you were born, your qualities and if possible your physical appearance

2. Have the Main Body         

The body takes 80 to 90% of the entire composition. The body doesn’t restrict what to write provided you stick to the sequence of events.

If you are not sticking to the classic five-paragraph structure, ensure your content is divided into paragraphs for proper readability. Proper paragraph helps the readers easily read your thoughts.

3. Have the Conclusion

Like the introductions, conclusions also need to be impressive. Provide the lessons learned and changes you have had in life based on the episode shared. Whether the consequences are positive or negative, don’t hesitate to share them.

 By now, you know have an idea of what’s required to write an autobiography. Now, here is a step-by-step guide to help you write a good autobiography.

Before writing an autobiography, it would be best if you found time to read well-known autobiographies to practically see how the content is written.

That way you will have a better idea of how to write your autobiography. Also, don’t just read any autobiography, read those that are written by personalities that inspire you for relevance.

How to Write an Autobiography

1. Researching

This might sound awkward but for you to write a good autobiography, carry out research on your own life. As you research your life, come up with timelines and draft them. With a timeline, you will be able to give dates, persons, and events. Also, put down anything you can remember.

2. Brain Storming Ideas

Begin with birth, your background history, a brief of your ancestry. Then provide tell your experiences as a teen, provide the decisions you made like and back them with sensible reasons.

Tell the reader if you joined the school (college), describe your schooling providing the year each event took part.

Draft about your life after school touching on career, family not forgetting any event(s) that altered your life.

You can schemes, tables, lists, or pyramids to outline your ideas.

3. Create a draft

Treat your first draft as a final product by making it sound as perfect as possible. Correcting mistakes to later correct doesn’t make sense when they can be avoided. All in all, don’t be in a great rush, take your time and have fun creating a draft for your autobiography.

4. Go through what you have just drafted

Now, revisit the autobiography and identify mistakes in word forms, grammar, spelling, punctuation, tense, and style.

A grammatical mistake at the start of your autobiography will frustrate readers and they will stop reading the content right away.

Proofreading is so important because only literate authors win the trust of readers. You can also have other people read through your work to help identify and correct mistakes.

5. Get Feedback from Relatives      

You must consult your parents and your older siblings. And that is because parents and older siblings saw you grow and no one understands and knows you better than they both do. They will be able to help you verify your stories and also help you remember the event that might have been forgotten.

6. Write the Final Copy

Once you have done getting feedback from your relatives, creating your draft, and going through the final draft, it is time to create the final copy of your work.

Take the recommendations offered by those you had proofread your work seriously, and that is because they know what readers want to read. They are also going to be the readers of your autography once published.

Their ideas will positively impact your essay bring it to perfection. As you write your final copy watch out for grammar errors, punctuation errors, wrong use of tenses, and anything that doesn’t make sense and make them correct.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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