Life My Writing

How to write your Biography

 To Write your Biography is not as hard as you think!

I can’t count how many times people have said to me “I want to write my biography. but I don’t know where to start”.

Many of us have a story to tell and it doesn’t matter if it will never be a bestseller. maybe it’ll be a story that only our family and close friends will ever read but it’s important for us to tell it just the same.

Some of the good things about writing our own biography…

To write an autobiographical account of our life is very different than to write a fiction story. For one thing, it’s a gift to ourselves and our family – Who would not love to read about the thoughts and experiences of our grandmother?…or the life of our grandfather?. But, most of all, it’s a way to reconcile with our own life, giving ourselves space for reflections on ourselves and the world, and it can also be a therapeutic exercise in confronting painful experiences.

We can hope it can be inspirational to our loved ones and to the rest of the readers…And maybe, just maybe, it can become a literary work to the world outside of our own circle!

  Biografic authenticity

In my personal experience as a reader, the lack of authenticity is one of the faults of those biographies that don’t get read, in my experience as a writer, no biographic book can survive if it lacks authenticity.

Biographic authenticity is about recounting without filters, it’s about going deep and looking in the mirror, and spell out the words that describe what you see and feel, and who you are!

So, be willing to open yourself wide when you begin recounting the tales of your life.

   What’s good to know when writing your Biography

The first thing to know is that, generally, a biography and a memoir can be used interchangeably, but it’s good to keep in mind that an autobiography focuses on the chronology of the writer’s entire life while a memoir covers one specific aspect of the writer’s life.

When you start writing your biography…

…Think about privacy and if you should go ahead and change people’s names.   If your life was harsh you might not want to include the real names of the people involved. In this case, you could consider whether your life story could be written as a fiction.

1- List several highlights in your life

Buy a small notebook that can be easily carried wherever you go, when you think of significant moments in your life write down a few words about them.    Start with…

  • The time I…
  • How I learned…
  • Why I did…
  • Where I found…
  • When I was…
  • How I met…

Carry the notebook with you for a few days or as long as you feel it will take to gather your memories and material for the book.

2- Write scenes on index cards

Write down each experience you recall as a scene for a movie put each down on its own index card, you can later rearrange them in order for your book. Follow the method below for every scene you will put down on the index cards:

  • Who was involved?
  • When did it happen?
  • Where were you?
  • What were you thinking/feeling?
  • Why do you remember this event?

3- How to organize your story

Do you want to start from the present looking back ?…Do you want to tell your story in a chronological order ?…Do you want to go back and forth in between the present and past?.

Once you know the order by which you want to proceed then you can go back and rearrange what you have already written on those index cards and in the notebook.

4- Choose a theme

Is there a message you want to convey to the reader? if so, is it about courage?… Hope?… Pain?… Family?…Sadness?…Wisdom?…or is it a combination of all these?…or is it something else completely?

5- Interview family and friends

You might not remember every detail about a certain event, especially if you go way back as far as when you were a child.  But. I bet there was someone else who was there that does remember!

Interviewing family members for ideas and details about a situation and a specific time can also give you a different biographic prospective on the event and time.

6- Gather old photos, they are snapshots of your life

Go through old pictures. This can help you remember and provide vivid details of people, places, and feelings that you might have forgotten.

7- Emotions

Again, convey authenticity in your writing and include a wide range of emotions just as you experienced them at the time. Don’t be afraid to use a little humor too, especially after a serious passage in your story.

8- You don’t think you can write your biography?

If you think you can’t write your biography use audio and video to record your thoughts as they come to you. When you feel you have covered everything you want in your story, bring your recording to a professional writer/transcriptionist who can then arrange and type your story as you want it.

9- Writing your biography is therapeutic

Writing your life story offers closure and emotional healing for some of not so bright spots in your personal history. But, maybe your life was mostly a circus act from the beginning and is funny…? – Who wouldn’t love reading about that too!?

10- Conclusion

Connect all the pieces of the research you have done.

  • At this point, you should have the opening sentence out of list #1
  • A list of important details in # 3
  • The message you want to convey  in #5
  • Your interviews
  • Photos

Next put all aside…everything you need is already in your head, or your heart. You know how your story begins and how it ends. You know which parts are funny or tragic and which parts are indispensable in telling your story.

Start writing

At this point take another sheet of paper, write the title you like and your opening sentence, and then tell your story in a way that is natural to you. Make it as short or as long as you want. Wrap it all up with your conclusions or life lesson.


Would you like to write your biography and tell your life story?

Would your story be mostly happy… or sad… or both?

Share your thoughts…


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