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Write Your Autobiography

Updated on November 27, 2014
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Rebecca Graf is a seasoned writer with nearly a decade of experience and degrees in accounting, history, and creative writing.

Thought about writing a book? Many people do, but they have no idea what to write about. The first ideas are usually similar to the bestsellers on the market. But that is where writers usually stop. They can’t seem to find the original story within them. Yet there is so much there.

It is always said to write about what you know. I know I’ve heard that a million times. What do I know about? I know about books, accounting, some crocheting. I can even cook a few dishes. I know nothing that could be in a book. But wait…Maybe I do. I have lived over forty years. Something must have happened in that time period.

What do you know more than your own life?

Yes, I said your own life. Write your autobiography. No one knows it better than you do.


You Don't Have to Be Famous

You don’t have to be famous to write an autobiography. I always felt that you had to have won awards and been in tons of movies to be able to write an autobiography on your life. After all, who wants to read a story about you if they didn’t already know you, right? But that is not the case. How famous you are has nothing to do with whether or not you can write a successful autobiography. It’s all about the story.

I’ve read many books about people who were not famous simply because they had an inspiring story. Every person has a story to tell. It could be dealing with a tragedy, overcoming adversity, or finding the love of your life. You don’t have to be in the news to have a story to tell the world.

Think about books you have read about people that you later found was true but they are not on the cover of tabloids. Their story was interesting.

You have to keep in mind something else. An autobiography doesn’t have to be a true autobiography either. Now that I have your confused attention…

Doesn't Have to Be Exact

I wrote a novel based on my experiences with controlling personalities in my life. Now that part and the feelings of the character were completely autobiographical. The almost affair and the trip to Europe the woman took was not part of my real life, not even close. Yet the story is sort of autobiographical. It is based on parts of my life.

Writing your biography doesn’t have to be a true autobiography. It can be stories based on events in your life. After all, who knows it better than you? You lived it. Take an event and jazz it up for a short story or a scene in a full size novel. Use your life as a resource.

Think about it. Your life is full of events from simple day to day activities to life shattering. Yet each and everyone of them can be seen as a story.

Let’s look deeper.


Look at Your Life in Segments

Take one time in your life. Maybe it was the first years of your marriage. What about moving in together or learning how to work out your differences? There are probably millions of scenes in your life if you stop and think about it. One scene could be divided into multiple segments and stories pulled from them. There's a lot more than you realize.

Let’s look at like this. My early years are memories of playing on the farm as an only child. I played with my kittens, dogs, and imaginary friends. What things happened with my cats? Well, there was the time I tried to give Tiger a bath. Didn’t go so well for me. Whoa! Wait! There is something there. A children’s story could come from that or a comedy short story. That’s just one small piece of my childhood with my cats. Oh, and the time I found one dead and cried so hard. It was a hard lesson to learn. There’s a story there that could stand alone or be incorporated in a bigger story.

I was involved in a car accident when I was a child. Maybe a story could come from that. Or how about the time I had to deal with a boyfriend who couldn’t understand that I didn’t want to be around him 24/7? So many stories are there.

Go through your life bit by bit and see the different segments you could pull from. You’d be surprised what story ideas might lurk there. Listen to the stories you hear at family gatherings. So many stories are found there as well that might not quite involve you but those you are close to.

Don't Worry About Size

Too many authors are worried about size before they even start to write a story. Come on! Everyone knows that it’s not the size that counts! And who cares when you haven’t even started yet.

Seriously. Just because J.K. Rowlings can pull off success with over a hundred thousand word book, doesn’t mean you should forget about Edgar Allen Poe who did so much in so much fewer words. In fact, he did it in just over two thousand words in the Telltale Heart. That story is one of my favorites and has endured the test of time. Size really doesn’t matter. Focus instead on writing the story until your muse says you are done.

Quality is more important than quantity. If you can write a ten thousand word story that has readers wanting more and following you to purchase your books as they are released, then why try to product a ninety thousand word manuscript that readers shrug their shoulders at? Make size secondary.


Do You Read Autobiographies?

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Be Creative

Find your scene. Expand on it. Give it life. Make it adventurous. You can do whatever you want in a story. Take how you and your significant other met and create a fantasy story out of it. Take your not so happy encounter with a toaster and create a horror story. Remember that you have the ability to take what you consider boring and create something awesome with it. Just be creative.

Have fun writing!


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    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      It is a great suggestion, but with a life as boring as mine, I think I am going to end up reading it by myself. On the other hand, most of my hubs are chapters from my own life, because I only write non-fiction adventure.

      You are absolutely correct. An adventurous kind of an autobiography may be received well by the readers.

      Very useful hub! Voted up!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      I think all of us regular folks discount the value of our stories. I just thought of a couple cool ideas using this idea. Thanks for the inspiration. Voted up, interesting and sharing!