Many celebrities publish autobiographies, but you do not need fame to share your story. You may have experienced a situation that you struggled to understand, and writing a memoir may help you come to a new perspective while also helping a reader understand you better. Whether you intend to write your autobiography to send to potential publishers or if you plan to share your story with family and friends, you will start the writing process the same way.
Before you begin writing your memoir you should consider the purpose behind telling your story. If you want to relate your life story, from birth to present for your family, you know your purpose and where you will start telling your story. However, if you hope to publish your story, you will want to have a central theme running through your memoir instead of only retelling life events. You will need to think of patterns in your life, such as loss or illness, and this may help you focus your autobiography. Sometimes you may not know the theme until you begin outlining or even writing the autobiography itself, but thinking about theme before you begin will raise your awareness as you move forward.
You will need to consider how you want to structure your essay, and this will help you complete the next steps of the process. When you write for yourself or your family, you may choose to tell a series of chronological stories that show your life from one year to the next. A different way to share with either the public or your family may include filling your autobiography with stand-alone stories. You may want to create sections that relate to a certain time period, person or theme. Once you have a general idea of how you want to lay out your story, you can begin the next steps toward completing your memoir.
After you have an idea about your theme and structure, you can create an outline to guide you through telling your story. The structure will play an important role in how you create your outline. If you tell your story chronologically, the outline may breakdown by years, and then you can make notes about the stories you intend to tell for each year. Other ways you might structure your autobiography will breakdown in a similar way. You might list a section title you decided on and then list the stories you want to tell in that section. The outline will help you stay on track as you move through your autobiography and may help prevent forgetting pivotal stories that define your personal history.
With an outline next to you and an idea about the theme and structure of your autobiography, you can begin writing. Tell your story with as much honesty and detail as you can recall to help your reader feel as if by reading your story she will experience the story you share. You may want to take your time with first one story and then another, editing and perfecting one story at a time. However, you might choose to write a quick first draft of your entire autobiography and then take your time combing through the stories in your revision, looking over grammatical errors and ensuring accuracy.
- Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft; Janet Burroway
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