Sample of How to Write an Autobiography

Writing an autobiography can be enjoyable, challenging and rewarding.

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, an autobiography is "the biography of a person narrated by himself or herself." Whether it's written for personal use, for family and friends or for publication, writing an autobiography can be enjoyable, challenging and rewarding. Few tools are necessary, but a good memory, the ability to be introspective and the desire and ability to sit and record a personal history are helpful. Writing an autobiography can be a daunting task, but when broken down into steps, the process is more manageable.

Take notes about basic personal facts, such as birth date and birthplace, family members, friends, places lived, schools attended, jobs held, favorite hobbies and important experiences. Keep your writing tools close at hand for several days or weeks; memories or important information can strike at any time.

Sort through memorabilia, such as photo albums, scrapbooks and yearbooks, retrieving any memories or insights you might have forgotten.

Interview family members, friends, teachers or other key figures, asking them about their memories and impressions. Use the tape recorder, and take notes during these interviews.

Sort through the material, and organize it according to chronology or subject matter. Consider the best way to present the material.

Make an outline based on how the material will be organized.

Carve out time to write, and set goals: Write for a set period of time every day or week, write so many words a day, or write so many sections a month.

Find a quiet, comfortable place to write.

Write according to your goals. Don't worry if what is being written isn't perfect--just get it down on paper.

Write a first draft and set it aside for a week, a month or six months--long enough so it can be read with a fresh eye.

Read the autobiography, making notes about things that can be improved; look for inconsistencies, missing information and unclear elements as well as spelling or grammar mistakes.

Write a second draft of the autobiography, incorporating your changes.

Ask a few friends or family members to read the autobiography and make suggestions.

Review the suggestions.

Write a third draft of the autobiography, incorporating suggestions that fit with your vision of the autobiography.

Marguerite Lance has been a professional writer for seven years and has written for museums, hospitals, non-profit agencies, governmental agencies and telecommunication companies. Her specialties include nutrition, dietetics and women's and children's health issues. Lance received a Bachelor of Arts in biological anthropology from Idaho State University.