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Writing Your Autobiography - Building The Foundation

We’ve all seen and heard of autobiographies before…….so I guess we can skip that introduction. No need to dumb anything down. But the first, most important thing to ask yourself might be-dare I say it- Why? Why are your writing your autobiography? Clearly defining the reason behind telling your story can provide useful clues as to how to go about embarking on this journey.

Now, allow me to explain….

Establishing the motivation for writing your autobiography will provide the foundation for your writing and will function as a map or compass to guide the way. Consider the wind blowing the sails of a ship, gently guiding it to shore. Similarly, understanding your motive will assist you in adhering to a central theme so that you remain on course. So… what IS that motivation? What’s the method behind the madness? Are you depicting how you overcame an important challenge in your life? In that case, your story would serve the purpose of inspiring others… or be a call to action for others to overcome similar challenges. Are you educating the reader? They say the easiest way to learn is from other people’s mistakes, so why not provide an example for others? Perhaps you are helping the reader understand the lives of others who come from a similar background. Or maybe entertaining the reader might be your intended purpose. Regardless of the path you choose, having a clear, underlying purpose will provide consistency and structure to your message.

Next, you must consider your audience. And the unintended audience needs to know when to ‘call it quits’ when reading your work (that was meant to be funny). So, who are you targeting? Are you targeting people in your city? Millennials? Men over 50? The business community? Cancer survivors? Take a moment to think about the message and purpose of the autobiography, and the demographic that will most likely relate to your theme.

And finally, decide how you are going to write it. Will you maintain a chronological order? Or perhaps begin with a pivotal event in your life, then flash back to the beginning to demonstrate how your life progressed to that point. You can also engage your friends and family to assist. Ask them to share what they think are your three most important character traits, or three memories that highlight some of your best (or worst) moments. Then gather those stories and organize them into a theme that that you can build upon. Oh, and I almost forgot…. Don’t forget to add a little flare. You see, every piece of writing needs a little pizazz. Now, you’re probably asking, “what does he mean by that?” The world doesn’t need another flat, ruminating, boring autobiography littering the literary landscape. Draw the reader in. You know- the stuff you learned in literature class back in grade school. Make them FEEL something. Make the reader feel like they are living out YOUR story. If it’s an inspirational piece, make sure it’s captivating. If informative, present it in a way that will make the reader want to learn more. Allow your humor, idiosyncrasies, even your unique sarcasm – all those elements that make you unique – to shine through in your writing.

Now that you’ve been given some guidance for your journey, it’s time to go out and be great. Go on now…. get a move on. The world can’t wait to hear about you (seriously, no sarcasm here).

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