The Correct Method On How To Write An Autobiography: Opinions That Matter
- Shanelle O. By
- February 6, 2023
- 7 Min Read
Did your professor ask you to write an autobiography? Getting an autobiography essay assignment is not common, but there are good chances you’ll get them. When people talk about autobiography, you might think of Donald Trump’s Surviving at the Top. While this is a good biography, it is not an autobiography.
So, what is an autobiography, and how can you write it without errors? Firstly, no professor will teach you how to write it. They might give you references and instructions, but that is the most they will do. Thus, you are pretty much on your own. But, let that not intimidate you, as we got your back. This article will brief you about autobiography, its type, and how to write it with an example.
What Is An Autobiography? What Are The Types Of Autobiography?
In simple terms, autobiography is the personal life story of the person writing it. In other words, when a person writes an individual account or story, the write-up can be called an autobiography. This is different from a biography, which is again a person’s life story but written by a third person who may or may not is related to the person in the story.
Autobiography tends to be in a narrative form, and there’s no particular standard way to write it. These types of narratives usually do not entail ordinary stories but give an account of the lives of extraordinary people or achievers.
One can also say that an autobiography is an essay that speaks about the writer’s personal experience.
Types Of Autobiography
Full autobiography: It is a complete life story of a person from birth to the present time.
Example: ‘A Life’ by Elia Kaza
Memoir: This type of write-up focuses on a specific event, time, situation, etc., and is written in first-person.
Example: Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Personal essay: This is one of the oldest styles of artistic autobiography that focuses more on writing style and tone instead of the story.
Example: A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman.
Confession: It is a confession write-up by someone who is guilty of their deeds.
Example: Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Psychological illness: This is an autobiography of people who underwent some kind of mental illness.
Example: The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang
Overcoming adversity: This falls under the category of inspiring stories that are written by people who have faced hardships such as kidnaps, murders, or accidents.
Example: The Center of the Universe by Nancy Bachrach
How Is An Autobiography Structured?
There is no set formula for writing an autobiography. It can be written in any format and in any of the above types. Nevertheless, you can follow the basic essay structure to get started with autobiography writing. The following are the three sections to be included in the autobiography, irrespective of their type:
This will be the first section of the autobiography, which includes basic information about you, such as your likes and dislikes, birth details, and others. You can cover the following information in this section:
- Birth date and place
- Family background
Apart from this information, you can also include other interesting life experiences that you deem fit. The goal of this section is to give an idea about the topic of your write-up to your audience, present the objective, and hook the readers.
This section is the core of your essay, where you present your story. There is no restriction on the length of this section, and you can keep it as long or as short as you want, covering the significant events. Just remember to organize your paragraphs in a logical order and be clear in your presentation.
This is the section where you can make an impactful final impression. Here, you can discuss the life lessons and where it has taken you. Avoid stretching this part unnecessarily, and keep it concise.
Literary Forms Of Autobiography
Autobiography is divided into four categories in literature:
Thematic: This type goes beyond the life story and has a particular underlying theme to it. It emphasizes specific goals or values.
Religious: This type of write-up has a spiritual undertone and may include various experiences of the writer with “God.” It can be the writer’s spiritual journey and encounters with the supernatural.
Intellectual: This is all about the writer’s ascent to what they are today. It includes significant experiences or events that have shaped their journey so far.
Fictional: This is about narrating the writer’s experiences with a hint of fiction sprinkled over it. The write-up may include exaggeration for artistic purposes.
How To Write An Autobiography?
Here is the step-by-step guide that can help you get started with writing an autobiography:
- Brainstorm: The first step is to jog down your memories and compile a list of intriguing experiences that have made a mark on your life. Ensure you cover all important milestones of your life, from childhood to college studies, first job, and other events. Although not every memory will make it to the final draft, make a note of it in this stage.
- Narrow down: An autobiography is a life story encompassing all major events from childhood to the present. However, when you start writing, there has to be a point of focus that can be used as a starting point for the autobiography. Thus, go through your memories and pick a single memory or event that acts as a focal point.
- Create an outline: An outline helps you plan your autobiography beforehand. Organize your narrative around your life’s compelling episodes to grab your readers’ attention. Your outline should have an introduction, body, and conclusion (refer to the autobiography structure in the above section).
- Write the first draft: Once you have compiled all the key moments of your life and have a clear vision of the same, you can start writing your first draft. Ensure that you have enough information to get started with writing. The first draft may take time to complete and may be lengthy, but it is best to put it all down, as you can edit it later.
- Proofread the draft: After completing the draft, take a short break to freshen up and free your mind so that you can come back to proofread. A break refreshes your mind and helps you view your draft with fresh eyes. Thus, there’s a high chance of finding the errors or mistakes that you may have committed when writing.
When proofreading your draft, look for inconsistencies in the narrative and flow. Check the grammar and spelling to ensure that nothing seems out of place.
- Refine and rewrite: After proofreading your work, make changes wherever it is necessary. Fill in the gaps, make corrections, and add some information if needed. Once all the changes are completed, re-read the text and rewrite if needed. Sometimes multiple revisions and rewritings are needed to produce a water-tight text, so be patient until you reach the final draft.
- Feedback: While multiple revisions will make your content error-free, there’s a small chance that you may have overlooked a minor error. Thus, to avoid such trivial mistakes, share your final draft with someone you trust (a friend, family member, or even a stranger) to read and provide feedback.
Autobiography Writing Techniques
Writing an autobiography can be complicated, but with the right tips and techniques, you can easily simplify the process. Here are some methods that can help you out:
- Detailed narratives: Provide a detailed description of significant episodes and present an engaging story.
- Straightforward narrative: Leave no room for ambiguous or vague sentences. Also, remember not to leave loose ends.
- Maintain the order: Autobiographies usually follow a chronological order starting with the birth to senior years. While this is something that is widely followed, one can find other variations too.
Tips For A Perfect Autobiography
Here are some autobiography writing tips that can help you:
Keep it real: It is best to recount the events honestly without exaggeration. Remember that a realistic write-up is always appreciated.
Add vividity: Autobiography is an emotional journey; thus, it is best to add vivid details to the narrative to captivate the audience.
Don’t sound boring: As this is all about your journey, it is possible that you may sound monotonous at some point which can bore the readers. So take care not to sound robotic.
Compelling title: Avoid generic titles such as “My autobiography.” Instead, go for unique titles that create interest among readers.
Maintain the order: Do not be abrupt in your narrative. Jumping from one instance to another can be confusing sometimes.
Avoid jargon: Your autobiography must be easy to read, so do not use complicated words.
First-person narrative: Write your autobiography in the first person instead of the third person or second person.
Short Autobiography Example
I was born on a rainy winter night when even time seemed to pause its breath in my native Oklahoma. It’s hard to remember my early childhood. However, my dad says I was a silent yet curious child. He said that I would go about my business without troubling others. Due to my silent nature, most people thought I was not an active child. But my mother told me I was quite talkative with a handful of people I could trust.
My best companions throughout my childhood have been books, which my parents would lovingly gift. Apart from the books, I enjoyed educational and sci-fi movies a lot.
Writing an autobiography is not a cakewalk, but it is not an impossible task either. With a basic understanding and a handful of valuable tips, one can write it easily. Fortunately, this article provides enough knowledge to help you get started. Just practice and be patient so that you can deliver a successful autobiography.