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How to Write a Book About Yourself in 11 Easy Steps (Includes Publishing!)

how to write a book about your life

Do you want to know how to write a book about yourself but are unsure where to start? There are several frameworks to choose from, which we’ll discuss in this article, and once you get your story written, you have even more options available to get it out into the world.

What’s standing between you and writing your life story?

We’ll answer some of the most pressing questions about the writing and publishing process and see if we can get you started down the right path.

What type of book can I write about my personal experience?

Writing a book about yourself may feel like a daunting task, but we can help you break it down into achievable steps. To begin, let’s take a look at the different types of books that you could use to bring your story to life. 

Autobiographical essays are short personal writings focusing on a specific, big-picture theme or central message. They are quite short (usually around five paragraphs), and shouldn’t be thought of as your entire story, but rather one piece of it.

Multiple essays can be compiled into book form, such as an anthology .

Example: Facing Unpleasant Facts by George Orwell.

A memoir is defined as a first-person account that focuses on a singular event or events. However, though they are based on a true story and real people, memoirs are not categorized as nonfiction and likely only cover specific key events (rather than your entire life).

Deciding to write a memoir gives you a bit more freedom to share your life experience as you remember it in your own personal writing style.

For example, Wild by Cheryl Strayed

You can even turn your memoir into a sort of self-help book!

Related : How to Write a Self-Help Book


An autobiography is also in the 1st person voice and covers someone’s entire life story, usually from childhood through the time of the book’s writing. Autobiographical writing often requires a deeper level of fact-checking and a wider account of someone’s life history than memoirs do.  

Example: Cash by Johnny Cash.

Related: Autobiography vs Memoir Books

Nonfiction narrative

A narrative nonfiction book is a 3rd person account (similar to a biography) of someone’s life or an event written like a novel.

Example: Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

How to start writing a book about your life

In the beginning stages of the writing process ( pre-writing ), you want to gather as much information as possible and find the best way to organize it so that you can retrieve it later.

1. Gather your notes

I’m a big notetaker, so I keep all of my book notes in:

  • 8.5 x 11” graph-ruled notebooks with stick-on tabs for easy organization
  • The notetaking app on my phone (voice and typed)
  • The Notion app on my laptop
  • Google Keep
  • for voice note transcription (replacing the old tape recorder method!)

This system works for me because when inspiration strikes, I can capture the thought in the moment rather than trying to remember it later. When writing a book, setting up a notetaking system customized to your needs is critical to your book-writing success. Otherwise, you’ll lose momentum and risk stopping before you get to the finish line.

Want to know how to write a book about yourself the quickest way? Crowdsource your memories!

Here are some ideas on how to gather information and jog your memory:

  • Interview family and friends
  • Look through old photo albums and yearbooks
  • Watch a favorite movie from your childhood
  • Read old diaries and journals
  • Listen to an old song

2. Outline your book

Whether you need to create a memoir outline or have decided on one of the above types of books to write about yourself, you need to map out the different time periods covered in your book, the order you’d like to share them, and which real-life events feel the most important to include.

Start with these ways to organize the information you’ve gathered: 

  • Write in a journal
  • Record voice memos (use transcribing software)
  • Use a notetaking app like Notion, Roam Research, or Evernote

Then, I like to make a mindmap of all the different themes or stories that have emerged. You can then use those to fill in the different chapters and chapter sections of the book about yourself!

Remember: how you get started doesn’t matter as much as actually getting started writing a book . The best tool or method to use when writing is the one that works for you.

If you need more advice on the writing process, there are a ton of free writing websites online that can help or you can enlist the invaluable support of a book writing coach (like the ones we have here at!). This person will help guide your process and hold you accountable so that you actually write the book about yourself AND get it published! 

More on that in a bit.

3. Write a book about your life

It has to be said! We looked at ways to gather information to start the writing process. I sharted quick tips for outlining. Once you have all of your research completed, you’ll need to start putting everything together.

In case you want to skip step #2 and begin with a book outline (“outliner”), you can write by the seat of your pants ( “a pantser” ). 

Do whatever it takes to simply start writing and get a rough draft in your hands. Write your story by hand, on your phone, on an old typewriter, or on computer with the best book writing software , take one from Nike’s playbook and Just Do It!

While you are writing, focus on the story arc and the types of tones you want to use to really convey your message.

At some point, you’ll want to get everything into an electronic format (word processor document or PDF) to simplify the rest of the process, but that’s not the top concern at this stage of writing a book about yourself.

How to publish a book about yourself 

Since you are reading this on the website, I’ll assume you want to know more about how to self-publish your book , so that’s what we’ll focus on for the next steps.

 4. Have someone read your book

This can be a casual reading from a friend or a colleague ( called alpha readers ) who is a part of your target audience and whose feedback you trust. Or you can hire a professional editor for a formal critique.

Try to listen to their feedback with objectivity because what they say will help you determine whether you need to go back and do some rewriting or if your manuscript is ready to go to the next step—editing!

5. Edit your manuscript

Every book doesn’t require every type of editing , but it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what each type does so that you can select the best one for your manuscript. 

This is another place where a book coach can help you. They will be able to identify which types of editing your book could benefit from and could help you find the right editors or editing services. 

6. Get beta readers

It’s time to get some more eyes on your manuscript.

At this stage, your manuscript has taken shape and is close to complete, so it’s ready for an informal review. Have a few beta readers read your book and give you honest feedback.

Again, try to listen objectively (this can be hard when you’re close to your work – especially when it’s your own personal history). If the critiques are hard to hear, the positive is that you can make any necessary changes before the book is published and in front of a wider audience.

If you are having other people look at your work, it’s also a good idea to learn how to copyright a book .

7. Hire a proofreader

After your beta readers (“practice audience”) have provided feedback and you’ve made any necessary changes, it’s time for proofreading.

Proofreading is the last stage of the editing process . A professional proofreader’s responsibility is to find any holes that were missed during the editing process, including typos, plot issues, misspelled names, and anything else that may have been overlooked.

They are the final pair of eyes to look at the manuscript before it goes to print.

8. Decide how you’ll print your book

For book printing, you have two options— offset printing and POD (print-on-demand).

Offset printing requires a large print run (starting around 1000 books, but some offset printers will print fewer). It is usually cheaper and a good choice for those who want to do direct sales and already have a large audience ready to buy.

Keep in mind that you’ll need somewhere to store the books once they’ve been printed as well as a way to distribute them.

POD printing is a printing process that prints one book at a time as they are sold. You can upload your book files to online companies like Amazon KDP, Ingram Spark , Barnes and Noble Press, and others. They will drop ship your books for you as orders are placed through their online platforms.

Even though these online printers/distributors take a percentage of each sale your book makes on their website, they are usually the best choice for self-published authors.

9. Prep for your Launch

Once you have your printing set up and your book ready to publish, it’s time to set up your prelaunch.

This is when you set a book launch date, set up your presales, gather your “street team” and plan out how you’re going to let everyone know about your book. At this point in the process, we usually suggest that our authors create an author website, an email list, and social media accounts.

You don’t have to use every social media platform, but it’s important to determine where your audience is active and create a presence there.

10. Invest in marketing

This could be a time or money investment – or both!

From presale to post-launch, you want to make sure that you become a master at book marketing so that your name and your book’s title are getting out in front of potential buyers.

You can use online ads , book promotion  sites, podcast interviews, book review sites as well as writing opinion pieces for websites (don’t forget to mention your book in your byline).

Course: Market Your Book

11. Host a book launch party

This is the day your book goes “live” on your selected platforms, and readers can buy a copy. Your book launch party isn’t just about finally becoming a published author – it’s a huge day to leverage to increase book sales and buzz.

This is the day you’ve been waiting for. You’ve learned how to write a book about yourself, you’ve completed said book, and you’ve self-published. 

If you’re a part of our Author Advantage Accelerator Program , our team will help you with launch planning and execution. Otherwise, this is an important step of the publishing process that we highly recommend researching!

Other publishing options for a book about yourself

When it comes to publishing a book about yourself, you have four options: traditional, hybrid, vanity, and self-publishing.

Traditional publishing

publisher acquires your manuscript for publication. They pay for the book’s editing, cover design, and formatting and take a percentage of its sales.

As the author, you also receive a percentage of the sales called a royalty. Some traditional publishers offer an advance on royalties, which usually range between 5%-15% .

Hybrid publishing

A hybrid publisher operates like a traditional publisher, except they share the publishing costs with the author. They do not offer an advance on royalties and royalty rates can be higher than traditional publishing, according to IBPA (The Independent Book Publisher’s Association),

When compensation is based on royalties, a hybrid publisher pays its authors more than the industry-standard royalty range on print and digital books – in exchange for the author’s personal investment.

Although royalties are generally negotiable, the author’s share must be laid out transparently and must be commensurate with the author’s investment. In most cases, the author’s royalty should be greater than 50% of the net on both print and digital books.

Vanity publishing

With vanity publishers (also called subsidy publishers), authors pay for everything with little to no support.

In many publishing circles, vanity publishing is considered a scam , and we don’t recommend going this route.


Self-publis hing (naturally our favorite type of publishing at!) puts 100% of the control into the author’s hands. The author acts as their own publisher and invests in their product as they see fit. They have control over their budget, creative input, and anyone or any service they decide to hire to help with the process of writing a book about themselves.

Authors do pay upfront costs but can receive anywhere from 50%-80% profit off of their book sales.

Should I really share my story?

Let’s address the elephant in the room. You want to know how to write a book about yourself – but should you write it?

Here at, we think you should.

Personal stories are just that—personal. You are the only one who ultimately decides if you should share it. That being said, there’s likely something someone could learn from your life story. And writing a book about yourself will put that story out there for future generations (what a legacy!).

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I ready to share? Deeply personal stories can sometimes hold us hostage to our past. They can keep us from moving forward because we are stuck in the muck of our memories. Writing it out can be cathartic and a way to shed some of the weight. If getting your story down on paper is enough, write it, then put it under lock and key, tear it up, or whatever helps you get to your next step in life. However, if you feel an inner tugging to share—like maybe your story might be someone else’s, too, then move on to the next question.
  • Am I comfortable sharing this experience with the world? It’s one thing to write a story for your personal benefit, but it’s entirely different when you place it on the table for the world to see. If you are a private person or the idea of strangers reading your story makes you uncomfortable, but you still want to share it, consider writing under a  pen name (a fake author name).
  • Why do I want to share my story now? If you’re still on board with sharing your story, why now? Authors publish stories for many reasons, including making money, starting a writing career, ticking a “to-do” off their bucket list, or getting revenge. The first reason can be a hit or miss, and the last reason could get y ou sued. If you find yourself somewhere in the middle where you feel drawn to writing, believe your story could benefit others (whether funny, tragic, inspirational, or redeeming), or just want to try it, go for it!

You know how to write a story about yourself. Now what?

Your story, like every story, matters. When stories are shared, they can connect us, define us, and then can help redefine us as we release them and embark on new journeys.

If you feel compelled to write a book about yourself – do it. Not everyone gets an opportunity to share their story with the world. Sometimes, they don’t have the proper guidance or they let imposter syndrome win. Other times, they need someone else to do it for them through ghostwriting or a biography. This journey is about you – so take the path that feels the best for you and your story.

And remember: there’s never been an easier time to self-publish a book.

If you want help writing a book about your life and sharing it with others, has a team of book professionals who are happy to point you in the right direction.

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How to Write a Book About Your Life: 8 Tips with Examples

Krystal Craiker headshot

Krystal N. Craiker

how to write a book about your life

Everyone has a story to tell. But some people have an amazing life story that deserves to be shared with the world.

If you’ve ever thought about writing an autobiography or memoir, but you aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re taking a deep dive into how to write a book about your life.

Before we get started, let’s clarify what we mean by autobiography and memoir . An autobiography is a book about your entire life story, chronologically from birth until present. The prefix “auto” means “self,” so it’s a self biography.

On the other hand, a memoir focuses on a specific part of your life story or a theme within your life.

For example, someone might write a memoir about teaching in an inner-city school. The book will only focus on stories related to that topic rather than on the teacher’s childhood.

Now that we understand the difference between autobiographies and memoirs, we can explore why and how to write a book about your life story.

Reasons to Write Your Story

Some examples of autobiographies and memoirs, how to start writing a book about your life, 8 tips on writing a book about your life, conclusion on how to write a book about your life.

Why might you write a book about your life? There are many reasons, and we bet your life has some interesting stories you can tell.

People might choose to write an autobiography if they’ve had an unusual or non-traditional life. Maybe they grew up in a cult or lived with nomads. Perhaps they had famous parents or lived their whole life in a war zone.

But other people have a specific theme or period in their life that makes a great memoir. They might have done something extraordinary or overcome a specific hardship.

Maybe they have a scandalous true story in their past that readers would find fascinating, or perhaps they have learned some inspirational truths from a unique challenge they want to share.

There is no shortage of reasons why someone might choose to share their life’s story with the world. Topics of memoirs and autobiographies are endless.

If you have a story where you’ve learned something worth sharing, or you have a particularly fascinating life, then you have a great reason to write a book about your life.

Are you still not convinced you should write a book?

Let’s check out some great examples of autobiographical writing to inspire you.

Memoir examples

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave , by Frederick Douglass

One of the most famous examples of an autobiography comes from abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. He recounts his childhood and early life in slavery, his escape to freedom, and his activism.

It’s a passionate, often graphic, story of his courage and dedication to achieving a better life for himself and other Black people in 19th century America.

An Autobiography by Agatha Christie

As one of the most influential mystery writers of all time, Agatha Christie led her own fascinating and mysterious life. She was a deeply private person—and even disappeared for a time.

She wrote her autobiography before her death, but it was released posthumously. It still doesn’t talk about what happened during her disappearance, though: she kept some things a mystery.

Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi

Tennis legend Andre Agassi has led a fascinating and sometimes tragic life.

In this book, he recounts his early tennis training and troubled childhood, his rise to fame in the tennis world, his fraught relationships with Barbara Streisand and Brooke Shields, and his comeback at the 1999 French Open. It’s a vulnerable account of his life as an iconic athlete.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Writer and comedian Tina Fey’s memoir topped the bestseller charts upon its release. Fey shares tidbits from her life, including childhood memories and parts of her early career.

She focuses on themes of societal expectations for women and girls and using humor to navigate the toughest parts of life. It’s a witty and poignant read that resonates with many of her female fans.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

David Sedaris is one of the most popular memoirists. His most famous book, Me Talk Pretty One Day , is a collection of humorous but honest essays that recount his life growing up as a queer man and later moving to France with his partner and not speaking the language.

It’s a laugh-out-loud read of self-deprecating humor about a man learning to navigate life.

Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford

Not all memoirs are comedic. Ashley C. Ford narrates her life through her impoverished and tumultuous childhood and dark adolescence.

The entire story is told through the lens of wanting to know her imprisoned father while not knowing why he is incarcerated. She searches for familial love and her identity as a Black woman in this gritty, emotional, no-filter memoir.

The first step in learning how to write a book about your life is to find your starting point. But where do you begin? You have a whole life full of interesting stories.

The first step is to start with a basic chronology. Make a timeline of your life. If you’ve already selected a topic or theme, focus on elements in your life that support that topic. These might be the lead-up to an event, the event itself, or the aftermath.

You might also talk about events that shaped your character or taught you a lesson you needed for this theme.

If you haven’t picked an overall theme, or you want to write an autobiography instead of a memoir, make a timeline of your entire life thus far. Start with the biggest events that stand out to you. Make it as detailed as possible.

Then look for underlying themes and messages. You are still writing a book, after all, and all books need themes.

Maybe the theme is healing from childhood trauma or showing the value of hard work and dedication. It might be focused on how relationships changed you or what you've learned from repeated poor decisions.

As you study your life, you’ll notice patterns. These patterns will help shape the overall narrative of your life story.

When it comes to how to write a book about your life, there’s no one correct way to do it. But there are tips you can use to guide you as you start writing.

You will write about hard, often dark, things in a book about your life. Writing your life story can be healing, but if revisiting past trauma is too overwhelming, please reach out to a professional or someone you trust for help. Your book can wait.

Once you are ready to start writing your life story, here are eight tips to help you along the way.

Memoirs writing tip

1. Pre-Write

The process of writing notes or brainstorming before writing a book is called pre-writing. Pre-writing is a great way to get started with autobiographical writing. You’ve lived a rich life full of many events. It can be hard to organize your thoughts.

Spend some time free writing about your life. Free writing is a way to sit down and let the words flow. There’s no structure or prompt. Avoid the urge to edit your pre-writing.

Once you start writing, you’ll find that you have a lot more material to write about than you previously thought.

When you free write, you’re following the path that your mind takes, and you might be surprised about some of the connections your subconscious makes between events and people.

Pre-writing is a learning opportunity for yourself, and it’s also a method that lets your brain begin to organize its life story in a way that makes sense to you.

Don’t judge your pre-writing. Instead, sit with the messages and lessons you discover in the process.

2. Follow a Narrative Structure

A person’s life doesn’t really follow a perfect story arc. However, when you’re writing a memoir or autobiography, you do need to follow basic story structure.

Let’s review what a basic story structure is. A story always includes an introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and a resolution. Stories also need characters, settings, and conflicts.

While your life is much messier than a simple story structure, the elements of a story are there. Look for natural transitions in your life: beginnings, high and low points, and endings. You can turn these into a narrative structure for your book.

Characters are also important but much easier to find. You are the protagonist of your life story.

You may not have a clear antagonist depending on your personal story, but you will have supporting characters in the people who are close to you or you’ve interacted with. Paint them as multi-dimensional characters, not just props in your story.

In every story or personal event you include in your book, highlight the conflict and how you overcame it.

This applies to both serious and funny events. Think of each of the important moments as a scene. There should be a problem and a conflict within each.

3. Research Your Own Life

Research is an important part of every type of writing, and autobiographical writing is no different. Just because you lived it doesn’t mean you get to skip this step.

You can write things as you remember them, but you’ll probably find yourself fuzzy on the details. So, you can approach your own life like a journalist.

Find old pictures and diaries. Interview people you know for their recollections of the events you’re writing about.

You might also need to look at newspapers or other primary sources for backstory and setting details.

For example, if you participated in a sporting event in college, but you don’t remember when it happened or who the opposing team was, you can look through school newspapers.

Research will probably also remind you of things you’ve forgotten that will fit well in your book. It may provide you with a fresh perspective you didn’t have when the events occurred.

When you’re telling any sort of true story, the details matter. To be as factual as possible, research is key.

4. Be Truthful

People read memoirs and autobiographies for truth. When you set out to write a true story, you have an ethical responsibility to actually tell the truth.

Do not lie about what happened. Do not embellish to make things more interesting. Someone will discover you lied, and this will hurt your credibility as an author.

If you choose to include a story and you’re fuzzy on the facts, be honest about that. Say that in your recollection, this is how it happened.

If you find you want to lie to make your story interesting, start the process over. Ask yourself if this is really the spin on your life you should take. Find a story in your life that doesn’t make you want to lie.

5. Fill in Realistic Details

For most people, our memories are not video recordings. But how do you fill in details without embellishing?

When you write a story about your own life, you get some creative license in the details. You want to fill in details in a way that “could have been true.”

For example, you probably don’t remember what your brother was wearing on a random day 20 years ago. But if you remember how your brother dressed at that time, you can describe a likely wardrobe choice.

What would have been playing on the TV or radio in the background? What was a dinner your mother served regularly? Use pictures from your research and get input from others.

Writing accurate dialogue also uses this method of probable facts. You don’t have to recall word for word what was said. But think about how each person spoke. Did they have phrases they used often? Did they have interesting mannerisms during conversations?

Details are what bring your story to life. Use the five senses when describing events.

It doesn’t matter if you were eating McDonald’s or Burger King at the moment that changed your life. But you can describe the greasy burger you probably ate and the sound of screaming children at the next table.

ProWritingAid’s Sensory Report can help you find where you’ve included strong sensory detail and where you need more. Use this report to highlight your sensory language. Take notice if you’ve overused one sense, so you can include others when you edit.

ProWritingAid's Sensory report

6. Show Your Shortcomings

Writing a book about your life requires a high degree of vulnerability. Of course, we want people to think well of us when they finish the book. But painting yourself as an infallible protagonist isn’t honest.

People are messy. We fail; we make mistakes; we say things we shouldn’t have. Sometimes we’re the bad guy.

People read memoirs and autobiographies for connection to other humans. Your readers want the gritty, unpolished human experiences in your life. They’ll trust you as an author much more if you’re honest about your shortcomings.

It’s how you overcame your setbacks and mistakes that makes you an interesting person. Readers want to see your failures so they can root for you to succeed. They will find inspiration in your disappointments and missteps.

How to write a book about your life

7. Get Permission

The last thing you want after you’ve published your book is a lawsuit. Because you’re writing a true story, there are some legal issues you need to consider.

Get permission to use the real names of people in your life. Be respectful and understanding if they don’t want to be in your book, even if that means editing out a particular memory.

You might also consider changing the names of places or businesses. If you paint a past job in a bad light, for example, you could get slapped with a defamation lawsuit.

Likewise, don’t use your book as a smear campaign. Every person’s story has two sides, even the people you don’t like. But libel and slander are real offenses with hefty consequences.

8. End on a High Note

Not every story has a happy ending, so we’re not suggesting you embellish a fairy tale ending. But people read memoirs and autobiographies for inspiration. They want true stories of people overcoming obstacles or defeating the odds.

Ending on a high note doesn’t mean happily ever after. It means ending with a reflection and a message for your readers.

In autobiographical writing, you want to end with the lessons you have learned from your own story. You’ve learned something about yourself or some universal truth through your life’s events. The end is when you share these tidbits.

What led you to write a book about your life? There’s a reason you sat down to share your story. In the conclusion, tie this together. Think about what you want readers to take away from your memories.

The process of writing a book about your life is intense. It requires deep introspection and often sitting with some uncomfortable memories.

But it’s also a powerful process. You’ll learn that you have valuable knowledge and insights to share with the world.

As you begin writing, focus on the themes, messages, and universal truths. These make memoirs and autobiographies valuable and enjoyable to readers.

And always remember, you have a story worth telling.

how to write a book about your life

Be confident about grammar

Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.

Krystal N. Craiker is the Writing Pirate, an indie romance author and blog manager at ProWritingAid. She sails the seven internet seas, breaking tropes and bending genres. She has a background in anthropology and education, which brings fresh perspectives to her romance novels. When she’s not daydreaming about her next book or article, you can find her cooking gourmet gluten-free cuisine, laughing at memes, and playing board games. Krystal lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, child, and basset hound.

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  • May 27, 2024

How to Start Writing a Book About Your Life Story

Julia mccoy.

Creator and Co-founder

You’ve lived an incredible life filled with unique experiences, challenges, and triumphs. You’ve always wanted to share your story with the world, but where do you even begin?

Writing a book about your life can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right guidance and a little bit of courage, you can start putting pen to paper and bringing your memoir or autobiography to life.

I know how it feels to have a story burning inside you, waiting to be told. As someone who has walked this path before, I’m here to help you take those first crucial steps.

Together, we’ll explore the different types of life story books, brainstorm your most meaningful experiences, and create a roadmap for your writing journey.

So grab a notebook and let’s get started on turning your life into a compelling narrative that will inspire and captivate readers.

Table Of Contents:

Different types of life story books, set a timer and write freely, focus on specific life events, write without editing or judgment, identify your target readers, determine your reason for writing, adapt your writing style accordingly, decide on a chronological or thematic structure, identify key events and turning points, create a narrative arc, talk to family and friends, look through old photos and journals, visit memorable locations, find your unique voice, show, don’t tell, use descriptive language, write engaging dialogue, set small, achievable goals, write regularly, embrace the messy first draft, revise and edit later, join a writing group, work with a writing coach or editor, share drafts with trusted readers, it’s time to share your story with the world.

When you’re learning how to start writing a book about your life, it’s important to understand the different types of life story books out there. Knowing the difference between an autobiography vs. biography vs. memoir will help you decide which format best fits the true story you want to tell about your life history and experiences.

An autobiography is a nonfiction narrative that covers the author’s entire life, from birth to the present day. It’s told in the first person and aims to give a comprehensive account of the writer’s personal history and life events.

A biography, on the other hand, is written by someone else about another person’s life story. It’s still a nonfiction book, but it’s told in the third person and often involves extensive research and interviews to piece together a full picture of the subject’s life experiences and achievements.

A memoir is a bit different from both an autobiography and a biography. Rather than trying to capture the author’s entire life story, a memoir focuses on a specific period, event, or theme in their life. It’s a form of autobiographical writing that allows the author to explore a particular aspect of their personal history in greater depth, often with an emphasis on the emotional journey and lessons learned along the way.

When I was writing my own memoir, I found it helpful to read examples of all three types of life story books to get a sense of the different approaches authors can take when writing about real life.

Some of my favorites include Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama (autobiography), Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (biography), and Wild by Cheryl Strayed (memoir).

Brainstorm and Free Write About Your Life Experiences

One of the biggest challenges people face when starting to write a book about their life is figuring out where to begin. After all, you’ve got a whole lifetime of experiences, memories, and stories to draw from – it can feel overwhelming trying to decide what to focus on and how to structure it all into a compelling narrative.

That’s why I always recommend starting with a brainstorming and free writing exercise. Grab a notebook or open up a blank document on your computer, set a timer for 20-30 minutes, and just start writing about your life experiences without worrying about editing or judgment.

The key here is to let your thoughts flow freely and get as much down on paper as possible. Write about the moments, people, and events that have shaped your life story and made you who you are today.

Focus on specific life events that stand out in your memory, whether they’re big milestones like graduations and weddings, more personal moments like a meaningful conversation with a friend, or a solo trip that changed your perspective.

As you’re free writing, try to zoom in on the details that make each experience unique and memorable. Use your five senses to describe what you saw, heard, smelled, tasted, and felt in each moment. The more specific and vivid your descriptions, the more engaging your writing will be for readers.

Remember, the goal of this exercise isn’t to produce polished, publication-ready prose. It’s simply to get your creative juices flowing and start exploring the raw material of your life story.

Don’t worry if your memories are hazy or if you can’t remember every detail – just write what comes to mind and trust that more will surface as you continue the process.

By letting yourself write without editing or judgment, you’ll start to see patterns and themes emerge in your life experiences.

You may be surprised at the forgotten moments that suddenly take on new meaning or the connections that form between seemingly disparate events. This is all valuable information for your book and will help you start to shape your life story into a cohesive narrative.

Consider Your Audience and Purpose for Writing

As you write your life story, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind.

Who do you envision reading your book, and what do you hope they’ll take away from it?

Are you writing primarily for family and friends, or do you hope to reach a wider audience?

Understanding your target readers can help you tailor your writing style, tone, and content to better resonate with them.

When I was writing my memoir, I had to think long and hard about who I was writing for.

At first, I assumed I was just writing for myself and maybe a few close family members.

But as I got deeper into the process, I realized that my story had the potential to resonate with a much wider audience – people who had gone through similar experiences or who were grappling with the same big life questions.

Once I had a clearer sense of my target readers, I was able to adapt my writing style and focus to better speak to their needs and interests.

There are many reasons why people choose to write books about their lives, from preserving family history to inspiring others with their stories of resilience and growth. Take some time to reflect on your own motivations for writing.

Are you hoping to leave a legacy for future generations? Process and make sense of your own experiences? Or share your wisdom and insights with others?

Getting clear on your purpose can help you stay focused and motivated throughout the writing process.

Once you have a sense of your target audience and purpose, consider how to adapt your writing style accordingly. If you’re writing primarily for family and friends, you might choose a more informal, conversational tone, with plenty of personal anecdotes and inside jokes.

To reach a wider audience, adopt a refined yet relatable style that highlights common themes and engaging wisdom. Balancing elegance with authenticity will help connect your words to those you’re hoping will resonate.

Create an Outline and Structure for Your Life Story

Once you’ve got a big pile of raw material and have defined your target audience, it’s time to start putting some structure around your life story.

Creating a book outline is a crucial step in the writing process as it helps you organize your thoughts, identify key themes and events, and create a roadmap for your narrative.

There are a few different ways you can approach structuring your life storybook.

One option is to use a chronological structure, starting from your earliest memories and moving forward through time. This can be a good choice if you want to give readers a clear sense of the progression and evolution of your life experiences.

Another option is to use a thematic structure, where you organize your chapters or sections around key themes or lessons learned rather than a strict timeline. This can be a powerful way to highlight the deeper meaning and significance of your life events and create a more engaging read.

Whichever structure you choose, the key is to identify the key events and turning points in your life story that will form the backbone of your narrative. These are the moments that changed you in some fundamental way, whether it was a major life decision, a personal loss or triumph, or a moment of clarity and insight.

As you’re outlining your book, think about how each of these key events builds on the ones that came before and sets the stage for what comes next.

Look for patterns and connections that emerge across different periods and experiences.

Finally, consider the overall narrative arc of your life story.

What is the central message or theme that ties everything together? How do you want readers to feel at the end of your book? What do you want them to take away from your experiences?

By spending time crafting a strong outline and structure for your book, you’ll be able to turn your collection of life experiences into a powerful and cohesive story that resonates with readers on a deep level. It takes some work upfront, but trust me – it’s worth it.

Gather Memories and Mementos to Jog Your Memory

Writing about your own life can be a deeply rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging to remember all the details and nuances of past events. That’s why it’s so important to gather memories and mementos that can help jog your memory and bring your story to life on the page.

One of the best ways to do this is to talk to family members and friends who were present for key moments in your life. They may have different perspectives or remember details that you’ve forgotten, which can add richness and depth to your writing.

Another great resource for jogging your memory is old photos and journals.

If you’re like most people, you probably have boxes of old photo albums and scrapbooks tucked away somewhere, just waiting to be rediscovered. Take some time to go through them and study the images. Look at the expressions on people’s faces, the clothes they’re wearing, the settings and backgrounds. All of these details can help trigger memories and emotions that you can then channel into your writing.

If you keep a journal or diary, that can be an incredibly valuable resource as well. Reading your own words from a particular period can transport you back to that moment in a powerful way, helping you remember not just what happened but how you felt and what you were thinking at the time.

Finally, consider taking a trip to revisit some of the key locations from your life story. Walking through your childhood home, visiting your old school or workplace, or retracing the steps of a memorable trip can all be powerful ways to jog your memory and reconnect with your past experiences.

Take lots of notes and photos while you’re there, and pay attention to the sensory details that stand out to you.

What do you see, hear, smell, and feel in each place? These details will help bring your story to life and make it feel more immersive and engaging for your readers.

Develop Your Writing Voice and Style

One of the most important elements of a compelling life story is a strong, distinctive voice. Your writing voice is the unique way you express yourself on the page, conveying your personality, perspective, and style.

To develop your voice, practice writing in a way that feels natural and authentic to you. Read your work aloud to see how it sounds, and experiment with different tones and approaches until you find one that clicks.

When you’re writing a book about your life, it’s crucial to find your unique voice. This is what will make your story stand out from all the other memoirs and autobiographies out there.

Think about what makes your perspective special. What experiences have shaped you? What insights do you have to share?

Let your personality shine through in your writing.

To bring your story to life, focus on showing rather than telling. Instead of simply stating facts or emotions, use vivid sensory details and anecdotes to immerse readers in your experiences.

For example, instead of writing “I was nervous before my big speech,” describe the sweat on your palms, the butterflies in your stomach, and the way the microphone felt heavy in your hand.

These concrete details will help readers connect with your story on a deeper level.

Descriptive language is key to creating a rich, engaging narrative. As you write, focus on using specific, evocative words and phrases that paint a picture in readers’ minds.

Instead of generic descriptions like “the room was messy,” describe the overflowing ashtrays, the piles of clothes on the floor, and the stale smell of cigarette smoke. These details will help bring your scenes to life and create a more immersive reading experience.

Including dialogue in your life story can help break up long passages of narration and add immediacy and authenticity to your writing. When writing dialogue, try to capture the unique voices and speech patterns of your characters.

Use dialogue tags sparingly, and instead rely on actions and body language to convey tone and emotion.

For example, instead of writing “‘I can’t believe you did that,’ she said angrily,” try “‘I can’t believe you did that.’ She slammed her fist on the table, her face flushed with rage.”

Tackle the Writing Process One Step at a Time

Writing a book about your entire life can feel like a daunting task, so it’s important to break the process down into small, achievable goals. Set realistic targets for yourself, such as writing for a certain amount of time each day or completing a specific number of pages per week.

Celebrate each milestone along the way and don’t get discouraged if you have setbacks or slow periods.

When I first started writing my memoir, I was overwhelmed by the sheer scope of the project.

How could I possibly capture my entire life story in one book?

But then I realized that I didn’t have to do it all at once. I set myself small, achievable goals, like writing for 30 minutes every morning or completing one chapter per week. Breaking the process down into bite-sized chunks made it feel much more manageable.

To make steady progress on your life story, it’s important to establish a regular writing practice. Set aside dedicated time each day or week to work on your book, and try to stick to a consistent schedule.

You might find it helpful to write at the same time each day or to set a timer and write in focused bursts. The more regularly you write, the easier it will become to tap into your creativity and keep your momentum going.

When you’re working on your first draft, resist the urge to edit or polish as you go. Instead, embrace the messiness of the process and focus on getting your story down on paper.

Don’t worry if your writing feels clunky or disjointed at first – you’ll have plenty of time to revise and refine it later on. The most important thing is to keep writing and trust that your story will take shape over time.

Once you have a complete first draft, set it aside for a few days or weeks before diving into the revision process. This break will give you some distance from your work and allow you to approach it with fresh eyes.

When you’re ready to revise, read through your draft slowly and carefully, looking for areas that need clarification, elaboration, or cutting.

Be ruthless in your editing, and don’t be afraid to cut scenes or chapters that don’t serve the overall story.

Remember, revision is a crucial part of the writing process and will help you hone your story into its best possible form.

Seek Feedback and Support

Writing a book can be a solitary pursuit, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one. Consider joining a writing group or workshop where you can connect with other writers, share your work, and get feedback and support.

Many communities have local writing groups that meet in person, or you can find online groups and forums dedicated to memoir and life story writing.

Participating in a writing community can help keep you accountable, provide inspiration and encouragement, and give you valuable insights into your work.

When I was working on my memoir, I joined a local writing group that met once a week at a coffee shop downtown. It was a diverse group of writers, all working on different projects, but we bonded over our shared love of storytelling and our commitment to the craft.

Each week, we would share excerpts from our work and give each other feedback and encouragement. Those meetings became a highlight of my week – a chance to connect with other writers, get fresh perspectives on my work, and stay motivated to keep writing.

If you’re feeling stuck or unsure about your writing, consider working with a professional writing coach or editor. A coach can help you clarify your goals, develop your skills, and stay on track with your writing, while an editor can provide detailed feedback on your work and help you refine your manuscript.

Look for coaches or editors who specialize in memoir or life story writing, and don’t be afraid to invest in your writing journey. Working with a professional can be a game-changer when it comes to taking your writing to the next level.

As you develop your life story, it can be helpful to share drafts with trusted readers and get their feedback. Choose readers who are supportive but also honest, and who have a good understanding of your goals and audience.

Ask them to provide specific feedback on areas like pacing, character development, and emotional impact, and be open to their suggestions and critiques.

Remember, feedback is a gift that can help you strengthen your writing and create a more powerful story.

Starting to write a book about your life is an exciting and transformative journey. By understanding the different types of life story books, brainstorming your key experiences, and creating a clear structure, you’ve laid the foundation for a compelling narrative.

Remember, writing your life story is a process. Embrace the messy first draft, write regularly, and don’t be afraid to seek feedback and support along the way. Your unique voice and experiences are worth sharing with the world.

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How To Write A Book About Your Life—7 Best Tips To Get Started

  • August 9, 2022

You have seen and done a lot. You have filled countless pages in your journals. You have something to share, and there’s something special in knowing that a stranger may read your personal story and draw inspiration and encouragement from it.

You may have a wealth of experiences that your readers can gain insight from and the opportunity to leave your legacy to the world while making a buck at the same time.

It’s finally time to write your life story.

Below we’ll explore the critical elements to consider on how to write a book about your life.

How to write a book about your life

Why do you want to write a book about your life? Let this question be your starting point as you enter the creative writing process. 

What makes you want to get your own story out there?

Your  story  is the message you want to convey. It’s a natural human urge to preserve a person’s life experience and share the word with those who come after us. 

Consider that message and your passion for it the theme of your story. What does your life express? 

Brainstorm concepts, themes, and messages. Write down your experiences and perspectives in free-writing journal sessions.

How can you organize your memories to convey your message through an engaging true story? 

Think about novels and their plots. The story of a character’s life doesn’t always start at the beginning. 

The organizing process is known as outlining. Established writers outline their novels to help them stay on track and remember the overall message or theme. 

Outlines act as scaffolding for your life story, a frame of reference to overcoming moments of disruption to flow or writer’s block.

The most important thing to remember when writing your book is to understand the process will have ups and downs. Some days you’ll write freely, from a place of authenticity, and on others, you may struggle to find motivation. 

Stick with it! The journey of writing a book, especially one so personal, is not easy. It’s a deep dive into the self that calls for discipline and emotional resilience.

How to start writing a book about your life

Below is an elaboration of the elements of life writing mentioned above. There is no one size fits all approach to writing a life story. The process calls for the creative use of established techniques, as outlined.

how to write a book about your life

1. Start writing with journaling

Knowing where to start when writing a book about your life can be challenging. Your reader doesn’t have first-hand experience of your personal life, so how do you help them relate?

The best way to begin writing is to start journaling. 

Journaling is the act of recording your experiences and perspectives in life, from the exciting to the mundane to the surreal. 

You can journal about whatever you like – your thoughts on a particular person, your progress in the past year, or how you felt about breakfast this morning. There is no wrong topic. 

Journaling is an honest and insightful look at yourself, your thoughts, your feelings, and your behavior. 

‘Write about what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been able to speak about. Be willing to split open.’ Natalie Goldberg

When writing a book, your personal journal’s content is a great place to find inspiration and authenticity.

2. Try writing short stories

Writing an entire book is no easy feat. It’s wise to start writing your life story by focusing first on short stories and anecdotes. 

Consider a weekend with a best friend, a time you learned a new skill or the experience of having your first pet. You can compile these short stories later and include them in your outline.

3. Organize your stories

Your true story needs to be engaging. So, how do you engage readers in a book about your life? 

Take them on a journey. Imagine you’re writing for someone who has never met you and never will. This reader will read your book differently from a close friend or family member.

Outline and organize your book’s content for that reader. Make a list of important stories you want to share and piece them together to form a coherent narrative. 

You don’t have to write about your life chronologically, and the book doesn’t need to be read that way either. Still, it’s essential to create some timeline and place individual stories in order so that they immerse the reader in your life story seamlessly. 

Outlining can also help you enter a more creative state of mind. You’ll find that some pieces work better than others at a particular stage of the book, or you may find that one story can be rewritten for greater effect.

How to outline your life story

List the memories you find most significant in your life. Remember that an outline is essential when writing any book, autobiography, novel, or manifesto.

Consider the following ideas and prompts to help you begin the outlining process. 

  • What events in your childhood influenced the person you are today?
  • What were your teenage years like?
  • Your first romantic relationship
  • Your aspirations for the future from when you were younger
  • Challenges and obstacles in your life and how you got through them
  • Relationships that have shaped who you are

Now that you have a list of significant memories identify the ones that most stand out. These are the memories and perspectives that will carry the plot.

4. Identify your theme

Have you thought about your book’s theme? It’s crucial to write under an overall theme; otherwise, your book is just a collection of random stories. 

A theme keeps your reader engaged and helps the story progress. 

To identify your theme, consider the message you want your reader to take away from reading your book. Is there an important lesson in your life story? Can you inspire your reader to seek insight into their own life?

Common themes found in autobiographies and memoirs include:

  • Accepting and embracing change
  • Overcoming challenges and obstacles
  • Relationships (romantic, platonic, family)
  • Coming-of-age

5. Write interesting characters

Who are the people in your life who deserve a place in your book? 

Like other types of books, a good autobiography or memoir follows the protagonist (you). Still, it is supported by various characters who each play an essential role in your life.

While you’re the star of the show, don’t forget to shine a light on the other characters. A well-rounded cast makes your story far more engaging for the reader than if you were to illuminate yourself and keep other characters’ vague shadows.

Consider their viewpoints and perspectives to flesh out an interesting character (a real person in your life). 

It’s important to respect and highlight the differences in viewpoints and perspectives between you and your supporting characters. The contrast between your view and theirs will help to make your story more interesting.

Consider their mannerisms, moods, and coping mechanisms; what’s life like for them?

Of course, nobody wants the spotlight without their permission. If you’re going to write a book about your life and share details about those involved, ask permission if you can. 

It’s also important to fact-check before you make any big statements. 

When writing a particular story, contact others who know it and run your understanding of it by them. They may be able to offer insight or new information that will alter your perspective.

6. Write engaging dialogue

Writing accurate dialogue can be tricky. You want to share the conversation, but you’ll need to trim fat from the lengthy, unnecessary small talk that happens in real life. 

Consider the purpose of dialogue in a story.

We don’t need a real conversation in a story. Attempts to perfect reality fall in vain. Gather phrases, tones, and punctuations from those who will speak and use them to support the plot development.

Dialogue is functional. What purpose does it serve? Why does that line earn space on the page? Use dialogue to achieve the following effects:

  • Reveal information about the speaker. Are they trying to communicate a need? Is there urgency? Is there authority?
  • Show rather than tell the reader moments you learned something
  • Connect the dots and emphasize the message

7. Embrace your vulnerabilities

Don’t hold back on writing your authentic self. There’s no point in writing an autobiography or memoir if you’re not going. 

Your account of your life story won’t be all butterflies and unicorns. Use those darker times to highlight contrasts in behavior and perspective and let the reader in on your internal process, struggles, and saving graces.

how to write a book about your life

Difference between memoir and autobiography

Do you know the difference between an autobiography and a memoir ? Both tell your life story but from a different standpoint. Let’s explore.

What makes a good autobiography?

An autobiography is one’s entire life story. It covers a person’s childhood, adolescence, and adulthood in a way that offers the reader a comprehensive understanding of their life. 

Autobiographies usually take place chronologically – from beginning to middle to now.

Autobiographies are typical among famous leaders and celebrities. They can show readers how one achieved success, such as how they overcame challenges and obstacles or the mindset that made them a natural leader.

What makes a good memoir?

A memoir focuses on a period in one’s life. 

For example, the time the author lived in France or their experiences as a soldier. Their childhood, a romantic relationship, a career.

‘A memoir is not an autobiography. It’s a true story told as a novel, using techniques of novelization. The author is allowed to compress events, combine characters, change names, and change the sequence of events, just as if he’s writing a novel. But it’s got to be true.’ Homer Hickam

In a memoir, a writer draws upon their experiences and memories to convey a message or theme. Unlike autobiographies, which typically focus on the facts and chronology, memoirs focus more on the writer’s experiences, feelings, and perspective on a situation. 

A memoir writer can play with the facts by exploring their different perspectives and thoughts relevant to the time.

Stuck for inspiration?

Consider how established writers tell their true life stories. 

The best way to find inspiration is to read. Read about lives and memories, and see how writers use time and perspective to share their life stories. 

What about you and your life makes you ready to write the story?

Popular life stories that exemplify the genre include:

  • The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
  • Becoming – Michelle Obama
  • When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  • Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain
  • This Boy’s Life – Tobias Wolff
  • The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
  • The Motorcycle Diaries – Ernesto Che Guevara

If you want to write a fantastic life story, write from a place of deep authenticity. Your openness and willingness to show your flaws, as well as your strengths, is what will help a reader who has never met you relate to your experiences.

Writing a book is not easy. It takes consistency, discipline, and focus on telling an amazing life story, even one in which you’re the main character. 

Set aside time every day or create a weekly writing schedule. The more you commit to a schedule, you’ll discover that it’s easier to enter a state of flow when you sit down to write.

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how to write a book about your life

  • Jun 6, 2023
  • 17 min read

How Do I Write a Book About My Life - The Ultimate Guide

How Do I Write a Book About My Life - The Ultimate Guide

Why writing a book about your life is a powerful and transformative experience

Writing a book about your life can be an incredibly powerful and transformative experience. It allows you to reflect on your experiences, share your story with others, and leave a lasting legacy.

Whether you're writing a memoir, autobiography, or simply telling your story through the art of storytelling, putting your experiences down on paper can be therapeutic and freeing. One of the most significant benefits of writing a book about your life is the opportunity for self-reflection.

As you delve into your memories and experiences, you may uncover new insights into yourself and gain a deeper understanding of the events that have shaped you into who you are today. This process can be particularly helpful for individuals who have experienced trauma or difficult life circumstances as it provides an outlet for processing emotions and making sense of their experiences.

In addition to personal growth, writing a book about your life can also help others who may be going through similar challenges. By sharing your story honestly and openly, you can provide comfort to those who may feel isolated or alone in their struggles.

This act of vulnerability not only helps others but can also help build connections with readers who relate to your experiences. However, there are also challenges that come with writing a book about one's life.

Writer's block is common when tackling such personal material since it requires revisiting sensitive or painful moments in one's past. It takes courage to open up and delve deep into these memories that may sometimes incite strong emotions or bring up long-buried thoughts.

Overall, self-publishing has made it easier than ever before to write a book about one's life without needing traditional publishing channels' support. With direct access to readers worldwide via digital platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), or Draft2 Digital, memoirs by ordinary people are now as accessible as those written by celebrities or established writers - if not more so - because they offer relatable stories from everyday people who have overcome significant struggles in their lives.

Understanding the steps and considerations involved in the process

Writing a book about your life can be a daunting and overwhelming task, especially if you're unsure of where to start. There are several steps and considerations involved in the process that should be taken into account to make the journey more manageable.

The first step is to determine your target audience. Who do you want to read your book? Are you writing for yourself, family members or friends, or are you hoping to publish for a wider audience? This will influence how you structure and approach your story.

Next, consider the timeline of your life story. Will you write chronologically from beginning to end, or will you focus on specific periods or events in your life?

Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to weigh them carefully before making a decision. One aspect that can't be emphasized enough when it comes to writing an autobiography is the power of storytelling.

Your goal as an author should be not just to recount events but also diffuse meaning into them. Your readers want more than just a chronological list of what happened; they want insight into who you are as a person and why certain experiences shaped who you've become while learning how they can overcome their own circumstances.

Another consideration is whether or not to self-publish your book. While this may seem like an appealing option due to its ease and convenience, there are important factors such as distribution, marketing, editing and cover design that must be taken into account before making this decision.

In addition, don't underestimate the possibility of writer's block when working on such a personal project. It's natural for emotions tied up with memories and experiences to make it difficult at times for words flow freely onto paper.

Give yourself breaks when needed so that the process does not become overwhelming. By taking these factors into account before beginning this journey ensures preparation for any curveballs thrown along the way!

Exploring the term "autobiography" and its significance

Every autobiography is a memoir, but not every memoir is an autobiography. However, both genres share one fundamental aspect: the desire to tell a personal story.

An autobiography is a written account of someone’s life that covers all significant events and milestones. It typically spans from birth to the present day and has a significant chronological aspect.

On the other hand, a memoir is more focused on specific aspects of someone’s life or their experiences in relation to others or the world around them. The significance of autobiographies lies in their ability to capture human experience, allowing readers to gain insight into other people's lives and find common ground with those from different backgrounds and circumstances.

In many ways, writing an autobiography can be seen as an act of self-discovery – the process of examining one's past can help them better understand themselves and their place in the world. One crucial element of any autobiographical text is honesty – writers must be truthful when recounting events and emotions they experienced throughout their lives.

Honesty lends an air of authenticity that will make readers feel like they are sharing something special with the author. Another essential aspect worth considering when exploring autobiographies is that there are no hard-and-fast rules for writing one.

Some authors choose to write chronologically while others prefer starting at specific points in their lives that were particularly impactful or memorable. The key takeaway here is that there are no right or wrong ways to write an autobiography; rather, it's about finding what works best for you as a writer.

Exploring what makes up an autobiography helps aspiring writers understand how they can craft honest stories about themselves while also creating compelling reading material for others who may relate to their experiences. Whether you're struggling with writer's block or don't know where to start, mastering the art of storytelling within your memoirs can allow you seamless self-publishing opportunities that emphasize your voice from start-to-finish.

Unveiling the art of crafting a compelling and authentic true story

Crafting a compelling and authentic true story is the essence of writing a book about your life. It is an art that requires honesty, vulnerability, and creativity.

One of the first things to consider when crafting your story is how to structure it. You can choose to write your book chronologically, thematically, or with a combination of both.

The structure will depend on what makes sense for your story and what you want to convey. When writing a memoir or autobiography about your life, it's crucial to strike the right balance between telling the truth and respecting privacy.

You may need to change names or events in some cases if it could hurt someone close to you or if you are uncomfortable sharing certain details publicly. However, honesty is essential since readers will be able to tell if something doesn't ring true in your narrative.

One of the most challenging aspects of writing a book about your life is avoiding writer's block, which can be especially difficult when dealing with personal experiences that may bring up intense emotions. To overcome writer's block, it may help to have an outline or plan before starting so that you can break down the process into manageable steps.

Another essential aspect of crafting a compelling story is embracing storytelling techniques such as vivid description, showing instead of telling, and creating memorable characters. These techniques will help bring your story alive for readers and keep them engaged throughout the entire book.

Crafting an authentic and compelling true story for an autobiography or memoir requires careful consideration of structure along with maintaining honesty while respecting privacy concerns. Overcoming writer's block by having an outline or plan can help with productivity during tough parts in writing while also embracing storytelling techniques like vivid descriptions that show instead of telling can keep readers engaged throughout the whole book making it more enjoyable for all who read it whether traditionally published or self-published through any number of available services today.

10 Simple Steps to Write and Publish a Book About Your Life

After you have made the decision to write a book about your life, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. However, there are 10 simple steps that you can follow to get started.

1. Brainstorming: To begin with, brainstorm a list of possible events in your life that you want to include in your book. Keep in mind that it's not necessary to cover every single detail of your life, but rather highlight the most important moments that shaped who you are today.

2. Outline: Once you have brainstormed and selected the key experiences and themes for your story, create an outline of how you want the story to flow. This will help keep you organized and ensure that all key events are included.

3. Research: Depending on the subject matter of your autobiography or memoir, research may be necessary. This can involve anything from talking with family members or experts in a field mentioned in your story, to reading up on historical events or cultural trends during certain periods of time.

4. Writing: Now it's time for the actual writing process to begin! Set aside dedicated time each day or week to work on your book and stick with it even if writer's block strikes. If you want more details about the writing process, click here.

5. Refining: After completing an initial draft, take some time away from your manuscript before diving back into revisions with fresh eyes. Some writers find it helpful to read their work aloud as they refine their writing.

6. Editing: Depending on how polished your draft is at this point and whether or not you plan on self-publishing or submitting it for traditional publication, editing may come next- either through professional editing services or by recruiting trusted friends/colleagues as beta readers.

7. Formatting: If self-publishing is something that interests you, you'll need to format the manuscript accordingly - keeping in mind differences between print vs e-book formats.

8. Cover Design & Book Title Selection: These two go hand-in-hand and are what will ultimately grab potential readers' attention. Consider consulting with a professional graphic designer and/or book marketing specialist to ensure that the cover/title effectively complements the contents of your work.

9. Publishing: After all these steps have been completed, it's time to publish! Traditional publishing requires submitting query letters and manuscripts to literary agents who will then pitch publishers on behalf of the author while self-publishing involves selecting a platform (e.g., Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo) to upload your manuscript on.

10. Marketing: Whether you choose traditional or self-publishing, marketing your book is key to its success. This can involve anything from creating social media accounts and reaching out to book bloggers/reviewers, to scheduling public readings and book signings in locations relevant to your story's content.

Benefits of professional guidance, editing, and publishing support

Writing a book about your life can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be a daunting task. The idea of baring your soul to the world and putting your personal story on paper can be overwhelming, but seeking the guidance of a professional editor or publisher can make the process much easier and more enjoyable. One of the main benefits of working with a professional editor is that they can help you overcome writer's block.

Many people who attempt to write an autobiography or memoir find themselves stuck, unable to put their thoughts and feelings into words. A skilled editor can help you break through these barriers and get your story flowing.

Another advantage of working with an editor is that they bring objectivity to the writing process. When you're writing about yourself, it's easy to get caught up in your own perspective and lose sight of what will resonate with readers.

An editor will help you maintain focus on what's important, ensuring that your story connects with readers on a deeper level. Self-publishing has become increasingly popular in recent years, but going it alone comes with its own set of challenges.

Without professional support, it can be difficult to ensure that your book is well-edited and polished. Hiring an editor will give you peace of mind knowing that every aspect of your book – from grammar and punctuation to pacing and plot – has been carefully reviewed.

Collaborating with a publisher gives you access to industry expertise that is vital for bringing your book to market effectively. Publishers have relationships with printers, distributors, marketers; which saves time and money while allowing authors more freedom when developing their stories.

Working with professional guidance such as editors or publishers offers numerous benefits for writers embarking on the journey of writing their life stories. From overcoming writer’s block through objective perspective-taking during the writing process or even publishing support from industry experts - seeking out external assistance often leads to more significant success while undertaking this transformative storytelling journey towards producing a memoir or autobiography.

Reasons to Consider Get It Done Publishing

When it comes to publishing your book and bringing it to the world, choosing the right publishing company is crucial. Get It Done Publishing stands out as an excellent choice for several reasons.

Expertise and Guidance: Get It Done Publishing boasts a team of industry professionals who possess extensive knowledge and experience in the publishing world. We understand the intricacies of the publishing process and can provide expert guidance at every stage, from manuscript preparation to marketing strategies.

Tailored Services: Get It Done Publishing offers a range of tailored services designed to meet the unique needs of authors. Whether you require assistance with editing, cover design, formatting, or marketing, our customizable packages ensure you receive the specific support you need to present your book in the best possible light.

Quality and Professionalism: Get It Done Publishing is committed to maintaining high standards of quality and professionalism. Our team of editors, designers, and marketers work diligently to ensure that your book meets industry standards and is polished to perfection, enhancing its marketability and reader appeal.

Wide Distribution Channels: Get It Done Publishing can get your book with major online retailers and distribution networks. This enables your book to reach a broad audience in digital and physical formats. Our distribution channels increase the visibility and accessibility of your work, maximizing your chances of reaching readers worldwide.

Marketing and Promotion: Effective marketing is essential in today's competitive publishing landscape. Get It Done Publishing offers marketing and promotion services tailored to your book's genre and target audience. From online campaigns to author websites and social media strategies, we provide the tools and expertise to help you generate buzz and increase your book's discoverability.

Author Support and Collaboration: Get It Done Publishing values the relationship with our authors and fosters a collaborative and supportive environment. We understand the importance of author input and involvement throughout the publishing process, ensuring that your vision and voice are respected and reflected in the final product.

Choosing Get It Done Publishing as your publishing company means accessing a team of professionals dedicated to helping you achieve your publishing goals. With our expertise, tailored services, broad distribution channels, marketing support, and commitment to author collaboration, Get It Done Publishing is a trusted partner on your journey to bringing your book into the hands of readers worldwide.

Reasons to Share Your Life Story

Sharing your life story can be an enriching and rewarding experience that not only helps you put the pieces of your life together but also has a positive impact on others. There are numerous reasons why writing a book about your life is worth it, and in this section, we explore some of them. Firstly, sharing your life story can help you heal.

Writing about past experiences and traumatic events can help you process emotions, gain clarity on the situation, and ultimately move forward. It can be therapeutic to take control of the narrative and find meaning in the challenges that you have faced.

Secondly, sharing your life story can inspire others. Your story has the power to connect with people who have lived similar experiences or are going through similar journeys.

By sharing your truth, you may offer hope or encouragement to someone else who needs it. You never know whose life you may touch.

Thirdly, writing a book about your life is an opportunity for personal growth. It requires introspection and self-reflection which can lead to greater self-awareness and understanding of oneself.

Additionally, it provides an opportunity for personal development in terms of writing skills and storytelling abilities. Sharing your life story can leave a lasting legacy for future generations.

Your autobiography or memoir could serve as valuable documentation of personal history for friends, family members or even strangers interested in learning about certain periods of history from different perspectives. There are myriad reasons why sharing one’s life story is beneficial: from healing personal wounds to inspiring others; fostering personal growth; to preserving one's legacy for posterity’s sake – writing a book about one’s experiences is certainly worth considering as a valuable exercise that has benefits both for the author themselves as well as readers who will be moved by their stories.

Inspiring Examples of Autobiographies and Memoirs

Reading other people's life stories can be incredibly inspiring and motivating, especially for those who are struggling with writer's block or are in search of guidance on how to write their own memoir or autobiography. There are countless examples of autobiographies and memoirs that have impacted readers from all walks of life. One of the most famous is "The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank, which chronicles her experiences hiding from the Nazis during World War II.

Her story continues to resonate with readers around the world, reminding us all of the power of hope, resilience, and courage in times of adversity. Another inspiring example is "Born a Crime" by Trevor Noah, which tells the story of his childhood growing up as a mixed-race child in apartheid South Africa.

The book is both heartbreaking and hilarious, as Noah shares his experiences navigating racism and poverty while also finding joy in unlikely places. His storytelling has earned him widespread acclaim and solidified his place as one of today's most influential comedians.

"Wild" by Cheryl Strayed is another popular memoir that has inspired readers around the world. The book follows Strayed's journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone after experiencing personal tragedy and addiction.

Her memoir explores themes like grief, self-discovery, and resilience while also celebrating the beauty and power of nature. "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou is a groundbreaking autobiography that tells the story of Angelou's childhood growing up in rural Arkansas during segregation.

Her words are both powerful and poetic as she grapples with themes like racism, sexual trauma, identity, and personal transformation. These four examples are just a small sample of some incredible autobiographies and memoirs that exist today.

Reading these books not only provides inspiration for people writing their own life stories but also helps to broaden perspectives on issues such as race relations or mental health awareness. Whether seeking self-publishing guidance or struggling with writer's block, these books offer encouragement and hope to all those seeking to share their own lived experiences with the world.

How to Start Writing Your Book About Your Life

Starting to write a book about your life can be a daunting task, especially if you have never attempted to write before. If you are struggling with writer's block or simply feeling overwhelmed by the process, here are some tips to help you get started.

One of the most important things when starting to write a book about your life is to find your voice and style of storytelling. Your story is unique, and it should reflect your personality and experiences.

Some people prefer a more straightforward approach while others may choose a more creative or poetic style. Experiment with different styles until you find what works best for you.

Another essential aspect when starting to write is determining the scope of your memoir or autobiography. You need to decide what time period or specific events in your life you want to focus on.

It's easy to get carried away with too much detail, so it's important that you stay focused on the main theme or message. Once you have determined the theme and scope of your book, start brainstorming ideas for chapters and subtopics that will help tell your story in an engaging way.

Think about pivotal moments in your life that shaped who you are today, as well as how those experiences affected others around you. As far as self-publishing goes, there are various tools and resources available online that can help guide you through the process step-by-step.

However, if self-publishing isn't for you, consider hiring an editor or publishing consultant who can assist with everything from proofreading and formatting to marketing strategies once the book is complete. Ultimately, remember that writing a book about your life is an incredibly personal journey - take it one step at a time and enjoy every moment!

How Do You Write a Fictional Book About Your Life

Crafting a fictional book about your life offers a unique opportunity to blend reality and imagination, resulting in a compelling narrative that captures the essence of your experiences.

To begin, draw inspiration from your own life, selecting key events and characters as a foundation. As the writer, you can allow your creativity to take flight, weaving fictional elements, altering timelines, or creating composite characters to enhance the story.

Balancing authenticity with imaginative storytelling is essential to create a captivating narrative that resonates with readers.

To create a truly engaging work of art, dive deep into your emotions, explore different perspectives, and infuse your fictionalized memoir with engaging plotlines, rich descriptions, and well-developed characters.

This fusion of fact and fiction allows you to share your life's essence while crafting a captivating story that will leave a lasting impression on your readers.

8 Essential Tips for Writing a Book About Your Life

1. Clarify Your Purpose and Audience It's essential to know why you are writing your book, and who it is intended for.

Are you writing for personal catharsis, to share your story with family and friends, or hoping to publish and reach a wider audience? Identifying your purpose will help guide the direction of your writing.

Knowing your audience is equally important, as it will influence the tone and style of your narrative. Will they be primarily interested in the events of your life, or do they want to learn from your experiences?

2. Create an Outline Creating an outline helps organize the various elements of your story into a coherent structure.

Start by identifying key events in chronological order, then look at themes that emerge from those events and consider how they connect together. The outline should serve as a roadmap to keep you focused on what's important while allowing enough flexibility for storytelling.

3. Embrace Writer's Block

Writer's block can be frustrating but is often an opportunity to reflect on what you're trying to say and discover new insights about yourself. When stuck, try freewriting or brainstorming exercises that allow for stream-of-consciousness writing without self-editing.

4. Use Dialogue

Dialogue brings authenticity and depth to memoirs by revealing character traits through conversation rather than just telling readers about them directly. Think about how people speak differently from one another based on their age, background, education level or personality traits.

5. Show Instead of Tell

Showing rather than telling allows readers to experience moments alongside author characters rather than being told about them second-hand - which can distance readers from the emotional impact of the moment.

6. Craft Compelling Characters

Characters are at the heart of any narrative - even non-fictional ones! Make sure characters have distinct personalities that make them interesting - even if they're not likable people!

7. Edit Ruthlessly

It can be hard to let go of material that took a lot of time and effort to create, but editing is essential to producing a polished final product. Cut anything that doesn't serve the overarching story or theme.

8. Consider Self-Publishing

Self-publishing has become an increasingly popular option for writers in recent years. It allows authors to retain creative control over their work, maintain ownership of their intellectual property, and keep a higher percentage of royalties - all while avoiding the gatekeepers at traditional publishing houses who may not see the value in their story. Writing a book about your life can be an incredibly rewarding and transformative experience.

The tips outlined above are just some of the ways you can ensure your memoir or autobiography is engaging and authentic. Remember, writing takes time - so enjoy the journey and take pride in what you've accomplished!

Writing a book about your life can be a transformative and empowering experience. It allows you to reflect on your experiences, gain new insights, and share your story with others. While it may seem daunting at first, following the steps outlined in this guide can make the process more manageable and enjoyable.

If you're struggling with writer's block or feeling overwhelmed by the thought of writing a book, remember that taking small steps can make a big difference. Start by jotting down ideas or memories as they come to you, or try writing short vignettes before diving into a full-length memoir.

Self-publishing has made it easier than ever to share your story with the world. While working with a traditional publisher can be beneficial in terms of support and guidance, self-publishing gives you complete control over the process.

You'll have the freedom to write on your own terms and choose how and when to share your work. Ultimately, whether you choose to write a memoir or an autobiography, storytelling is key.

Your readers want to hear your voice and connect with your experiences on an emotional level. By being honest, vulnerable, and true to yourself throughout the writing process, you'll create a compelling narrative that resonates with others.

In sharing our life stories with others we are making an imprint that will last for generations. We never know who we might inspire by telling our stories through our own unique lens.

Writing should be viewed as therapeutic not only for ourselves but also for anyone that may read our work. So don’t wait any longer; start today and watch as memories flow onto paper in an organic fashion that evolves into something truly amazing for both reader and writer alike!

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How to Write a Book About Your Life: Writing Tips from the Book Professor

by The Book Professor | Feb 26, 2019 | Book Marketing | 0 comments

how to write a book about your life

As a professional book coach , my role is to connect the people who have solutions with the ones who need those answers, and I do it by coaching busy professionals to  write high-impact nonfiction books . I’m actually the least important component in the process — I’m just the hallway they pass through to take their message to the world.

So, it’s no surprise many of my conversations begin with: “ So, what’s your story?”

Has anybody ever asked you that?  It kind of sounds like a pick-up line, doesn’t it?

Maybe nobody has asked you that exact question, but they have asked that question in other forms. They say things like:

  • What do you do?
  • What line of work are you in?
  • Where are you from?
  • Do you have any children?
  • What does your company do?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • What do you sell?
  • How do you differentiate your product / service / self?

Writing a book about your life is one of the most liberating therapeutic decisions someone can make. But how you tell your story is just as important as the story itself.

How To Start Writing a Book About Your Life

These steps lay out how to write a book about your life, but they are useful for all nonfiction writing. You can apply what I’m about to teach you to know how to any story you tell, whether it’s about you, your company, your product, or your family. 

The first step to writing a book is to build its foundation, and you can do that by answering these two questions:

What’s the purpose? AND Who’s the audience?

1. What’s the purpose?

You probably have a general idea of what you want to tell, but I challenge you distill it down to a single Purpose Statement before you start. Your Purpose Statement should say, “The purpose of my story is to ___________________. 

Complete that sentence. Bear in mind that it’s one sentence, not a paragraph.

Let me give you an example using my own purpose statement : The purpose of my story is to give people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society

2. Who’s the Audience?

If you don’t know your audience, it’s like playing spin-the-bottle in the dark. Don’t you want to know who you’re going kiss before you pucker up? Likewise, you need to envision your audience. Who do you interact with? What’s their age, demographic, marital status? Are they male or female, conservative or liberal? How do they identify themselves? Complete this sentence: The audience for my story is __________________.

Example: The audience for my story is everyday people.

3. Pull it All Together

Now pull these components together to craft a single statement.

Example: The purpose of my story is to give everyday people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

Now that you have your Purpose Statement, you’ll want to write your story from your audience’s perspective, not yours. What do they want to know? What information are they seeking? What new message or perspective can you deliver? Compelling content always meets the need, and your job is to deliver what your audience is seeking.

Three Elements Of Telling Your Story

Now I’d like to teach you the three elements of telling your story – and, no, it’s not beginning, middle, and end!

Stories are powerful, but only if they have a point. Your challenge is to think about your audience and convey what would be meaningful to them. Resist the temptation to tell them everything – you’ll bore them to death! Pare your story down to your purpose, and leave the rest behind.

Here’s a simple formula that you can use to tell your story:

  • What it used to be like
  • What happened?
  • What it’s like now

Part 1. What it used to be like

Before you were where you are now, your life/work/health was a certain way. What was it like?

  • Was it pleasant and peaceful? 
  • Was it stressful and harrowing?
  • Were you broke and despondent?
  • Was there something missing in?
  • Something frustrating?
  • Was it seemingly perfect?

Example: I was trapped in a high-paying high-tech job that I hated but couldn’t leave because I was too afraid.

Part 2. What happened?

This brings us to the pivotal point in YOUR story. The pivotal point is the “what happened” of your story.

Change usually takes place due to one of two things. Perhaps you had an aha! moment and were internally motivated to try something new or move in a new direction. You realized something and made some changes. Those changes were internally motivated.

However, for a lot of us, change is forced upon us by external factors such as an illness, death, divorce, a marriage, new baby, or a lost job. What happened in your life that caused you to seek a new direction and put you on a different path?

This is the turning point in your story. It’s the event/circumstance/situation that bridges the before and after . What happened that changed everything ? What was your pivotal moment?

Example: My dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor and I shut everything down and traveled back and forth to Florida to be with my parents. After he died, I had the opportunity to start over, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I always loved to write, so I went back to school to get my Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing. After I graduated I joined the faculty to teach writing, then started a small press to publish nonfiction books. I realized that most of the powerful stories were not being told, they were trapped inside of people, so I took what I knew as a university professor and a publisher and created a step-by-step methodology to turn people who aren’t writers into authors.    

Part 3. What it’s like now

This is the “After” portion. What is your life like now? How are you different now?  What are you doing to add value to your world?

Example: Now the people I work with have become the voices of hope and help. They are reaching out and changing people’s lives, simply by telling their stories.

When you write your story using this formula—what it used to be like, what happened, and what it’s like now, then seal it with your Purpose – then you have crafted your exceptional story.

Examples of H ow to Tell Your Life Story

Let’s take a look at all the elements pulled together.

I was trapped in a high-paying high-tech job that I hated but couldn’t leave because I was too afraid. But then my dad was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor and I shut everything down and traveled back and forth to Florida to be with my parents.

After he died, I had the opportunity to start over, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I always loved to write, so I went back to school to get my Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing. After I graduated I joined the faculty to teach writing, then started a small press to publish nonfiction books. I realized that most of the powerful stories were not being told because they were trapped inside of people, so I took what I knew as a university professor and a publisher and created a step-by-step methodology to turn people who aren’t writers into authors.    

Now the people I work with have become the voices of hope and help. They are reaching out and changing people’s lives, simply by telling their stories. The reason I do this is to give everyday people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society.

That’s MY story and I’m sticking to it!

What about your story? You’re the only one who can do it.

If you would like support when writing a book about your life , consider one of my nonfiction book coaching programs. I work with many types of non-fiction writers, including overcomers and business leaders . Below are our different writing programs to help you write a book about your life experiences: 

  • Online book writing classes (self-paced)
  • Group book coaching for executives
  • Individualized book writing help
  • Publishing and editing services

About Nancy Erickson

Nancy Erickson is better known as “The Book Professor,” a writing and publishing consultant who specializes in helping aspiring nonfiction authors bring their book ideas to market. Nancy works as a book coach assisting authors that write self-help books, biographies, business books, and other nonfiction books through online courses and book coaching. Contact Nancy with questions or to have her speak at your upcoming event by clicking here.

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How to write a book about yourself

how to write a book about your life

  • An autobiography is a book about your entire life up until you write your book, while a memoir focuses on a specific event or time period in your life.
  • Autobiographies and memoirs are almost always written in the 1st person. They should include emotive descriptions of key events in your life, as well as background information about your past and hopes for your future.
  • Self-publishing is a powerful approach for memoirists and autobiography writers. It allows you to share your story with greater freedom than traditional publishing.

Everyone has a story to tell. Whether you’ve travelled the world, danced with movie stars, or brought up an incredible family, many people have fantastic life experiences they want to share with the world. Writing a book about yourself is a powerful, rewarding way to revisit and record some of the most important moments in your life.

But writing a book about yourself can be daunting. You need to be able to craft your experience into a story. That means writing a book that’s full of suspense, intrigue - and real-life experience.

This guide is designed to help you learn how to write a book about yourself - and get it published.

What is a book that you write about yourself called?

Let’s start with the basics. Books about the author’s life typically fall into one of two categories: memoirs and autobiographies. While there are some similarities between these two formats - the major one being that they’re both subjective, first-person accounts of real-life events - there are also some key differences.

What is a memoir?

A memoir is usually focused on a specific event, or a particular time period of a person’s life. For example, your memoir could focus on your formative adolescent years, or a traumatic event that affected you. Memoirs are often written by non-famous people about larger-than-life events.

What is an autobiography?

An autobiography usually recounts the writer’s entire life up until the point the book is written. Autobiographies are usually reserved for celebrities and other famous figures.

What is a biography?

A biography is an account of a person’s life written by someone else. Biographies can be authorised or unauthorised. Authorised biographies have the cooperation and approval of the person the biography is about. Unauthorised biographies, meanwhile, rely on external sources for their information.

How to start writing a book about your life

Writing a book takes a lot of time. It’s extremely rewarding, but can be frustrating - particularly if you’re not sure where to begin. These 4 steps will help you take the plunge into writing a book about yourself.

  • Make sure you’re ready - Delving into your memory can be exhilarating, joyful, and painful - so make sure you’re emotionally prepared for the experience. Take some time for self-reflection before you begin planning your autobiography or memoir.
  • Make a list of the events in your life you want to include - If possible, take a few minutes to journal about these events as you list them. This can help jog your memory and stir up emotions that will help you write vividly and honestly.
  • Tell your loved ones you’re writing a book about yourself - This is especially important if they’re going to feature as identifiable characters in the story. They may have some reservations about their inclusion in the book, so make sure you’re on the same page before you start writing.
  • Plan your story - If you haven’t written a book before, mapping your memoir out in advance may be beneficial. An outline can help you stay on track, and give structure and pace to your story. The importance of these elements can’t be underestimated, so planning your book puts you in a strong position to start writing.

What to put in an autobiography or memoir

If you’re writing a book about yourself, you probably already know which key moments you want to include. But it’s important that you take the time to build up context and intrigue in the reader, so you’ll also need to give them some background information about you.

Here are 5 key components every autobiography and memoir should include:

  • Your childhood and adolescence - Your formative years will help your readers understand the actions you take and feelings you have in later life. Make sure to explore the events that shaped you in your early years.
  • Key life events - These events are the reason you want to write your autobiography or memoir - so be sure to give them the colour and depth they deserve. Write honestly. Give readers details that help them understand and envisage the situation.
  • Information about the other characters in your story - The real people in your life who feature in your book also need some backstory. That said, it’s important to discuss the details you’re including in your book with your friends and family before you publish it.
  • Episodes of despondency - Without some degree of grief or loss, most stories would be pretty boring. So even if you’re happy, successful and rich now, it’s important to include moments of failure or sadness you’ve experienced in life. This gives the reader a more rounded view of you, and helps them to sympathise with your story.
  • Your hopes for the future - Even when the book is finished, your story continues. Ending your autobiography or memoir with a hopeful message is a satisfying way to tie things up.

Writing an introduction for an autobiography or memoir

As in any book, the introduction to your autobiography should be intriguing and make the reader want to learn more. That means you don’t necessarily need to start at the beginning of your life. In fact, unless you had a particularly interesting birth, it’s probably best to skip ahead to a more pivotal moment.

This is particularly true if you’re writing a memoir. In a memoir, you’re writing about a particular time period or event you experienced - so your introduction should relate to that event.

Remember that your introduction sets the scene for the rest of your book, so it should be punchy, relevant, and captivating.

Tips for writing an autobiography or memoir

No matter what theme or tone your book will take, here are some useful tips for how to write a professional autobiography or memoir.

  • Write in 1st person - Use the pronouns ‘I’ and ‘we’ throughout your book. Not only is this the accepted perspective for this kind of writing, it also lends your work subjective authority. This is your story, so make sure the reader knows that by using the 1st person voice.
  • Read other autobiographies and memoirs - Reading published work that’s similar to the book you want to write will help you understand the conventions of autobiographical writing.
  • Do your research - Even though you’re writing about your own life, it’s possible that you won’t recall the correct details of every incident you’re recounting. Double check all kinds of factual information - such as dates, ages, and names - before you publish your story.
  • Write with the benefit of hindsight - You know things now that you didn’t know when the events took place. Writing honestly means being truthful about mistakes you may have made in the past, and acknowledging them with the information you now have.
  • Be emotive - You want your readers to understand what you felt at each life stage you’re writing about. Express your emotions in writing to give your readers a sense of empathy.

I want someone to write a book about my life

If you think your life story would make an intriguing read, but you want someone else to write the book on your behalf, you can hire a ghostwriter to write the book for you.

Unlike biographers, ghostwriters write your autobiography as if they are you. Often, you can decide whether or not to credit the ghostwriter. If you credit them, their name will appear on the cover alongside yours - for example: My Story by Joe Bloggs, as told to Jane Doe. If you choose not to credit them, their name won’t appear on the cover. Most ghostwriters charge more for non-credited work.

How to write a biography about someone else

Biographies are similar to autobiographies in structure, but the form is usually very different. Because biographies are written about someone other than the author, they are almost always written in the 3rd person, rather than 1st person. Biographies also tend to depend less on emotion and more on factual information, because the author isn’t writing about their personal experiences.

While research is key for autobiographical writing, it’s doubly important for biographies. If you’re writing a book about someone else’s life, you’ll need to ensure you have all your facts right. That means reading and researching multiple accounts of the same event to ensure you’ve corroborated your information. Biographical inaccuracies can discredit you at best; at worst, they can result in libel lawsuits. So if you’re planning to write a book about someone else, make sure to do as much research as possible.

Examples of published life stories, autobiographies and memoirs

Many famous and non-famous people have published successful autobiographies and memoirs over the years. Here are some bestselling autobiographies and memoirs from well-known public figures:

  • I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou
  • On Writing - Stephen King
  • Becoming - Michelle Obama

Many self-published memoirs and autobiographies have also achieved mainstream success. Some examples of these include:

  • Grit: The Banter and Brutality of the Late-Night Cab - Karl Wiggins
  • When I Was Lost: A Mother's Struggle with Bipolar Disorder - Glenna Gill
  • Beautiful Affliction - Lene Fogelberg

Reading work by other writers is a great way to find out what works in an autobiography or memoir. It’s sure to help you avoid many of the common pitfalls of writing and self-publishing a book .

Penguin has a great list of the best memoirs of all time , as voted by their readers.

How to publish an autobiography

Autobiographies and memoirs from previously unpublished authors are notoriously difficult to market to risk-averse traditional publishers. But that doesn’t mean you should quit before you’ve begun.

Self-publishing is a great publishing option for memoirists who haven’t previously been published. With a self-published book, you’ll receive a higher percentage of royalties than if you’re traditionally published. Plus, there are lots of self-publishing companies out there who can help you get your book in front of a wider audience.

If you choose to self-publish your autobiography or memoir, you’ll be responsible for marketing, printing, and selling your book. This gives you much greater freedom around the content of your book, as well as your marketing and pricing strategy .

Find out more about the world of self-publishing in our writing advice .

Advice from a published writer

Drop us a message, we'll be happy to help.

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Telling Your Story: How to Write a Book About Your Life

“One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide.”  – Brian Weiner.

There are millions of books published every year. Among them are the life stories of the rich and famous and the not-so-famous. All of them have one thing in common. They committed to telling their stories on their terms. You can too.

Your book doesn’t have to be a survival guide. It can simply be a story about the events that shaped you. Whatever the focus, your experiences can be of interest to others or touch someone’s life.

If you’re still uncertain about how to get started, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to write a book about your life.

Reasons for Writing Your Life Story

There are many reasons someone chooses to write their life story. Most people use it as a way to document important life events. This helps to ensure their story becomes a part of their legacy and lives on for generations. You may want to do the same.

Will your life’s narrative inspire or motivate others? Then why not write about it? Writing a book about your life can also be a cathartic experience. It allows you to face difficult memories and maybe even resolve them. If you’ve achieved a lot despite your struggles, it’s a great way to share your successes.

Maybe you started thinking about writing your life story after a significant event. During your journey, you learned so much about yourself and life. Now, you want to tell the world about it.

Despite all of this, you may still ask yourself,  Should I write a book about my life?  Reflect and think about your life story. Whether your life is a series of interesting events or one that involves an unusual upbringing, you have a story to tell. The reason why you want to share it with the world might be a personal one. You’ll need to decide.

How to Start Writing a Book About Your Life

Deciding to do it might be the easy part. Figuring out how to start writing a book about your life might be more challenging. However, these steps will help.

The first step is knowing whether you will write a memoir or an autobiography.

What’s a Memoir?

A memoir is an account of a specific life event or a span of time within your life.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings  by Maya Angelou is an excellent “story of my life” example. It recounts events that occurred in her childhood between the ages of three and 16.

What’s an Autobiography?

An autobiography tells the story of your life up until the present. Most autobiographies are in chronological order. However, the introduction could focus on a specific period that stands out. This helps to grab the reader’s attention.

Agatha Christie’s autobiography was published after her death. She left writings that chronicled her life up to the age of 75. If you’re wondering how to start a story about your life, examples like this can be your guide.

If you keep a diary or you’re in the habit of journaling, this can be a great place to start. If not, write down the events of your life. Choose a significant one for a memoir. If you’re writing an autobiography, it might be best to start chronologically. Enlist the help of family and close friends to help jog your memory. Photos can also help.

Writing your own story will involve a lot of soul-searching and commitment. You’ll need to have the time and mental space to start and stick to it. But once you do, the momentum should propel you to the end.

Steps to Writing a Book About My Life

You’ve gathered your journals. You’ve also written your thoughts on some of your more important life events. Now you’re wondering,  What are the other steps to writing a book about my life?  The following will help:

Create an Outline/Structure

An outline provides you with a format of how you’ll tell your story. It’s usually based on the narrative structure and details:

  • The setting for your story
  • The characters in your story
  • The plot of your story
  • Your story’s conclusion

All contribute to making your story enjoyable. However, your plot will encompass the rising action, climax, and falling action. It’s what keeps readers from putting down a book.

Completing the elements of your outline will require extensive research. When thinking about your setting, let your senses take you back to your childhood — the sounds, smells, noises, etc.

Photos will provide you with a visual of your setting. They’ll also remind you of the people you may want to highlight in your story. Once you know the characters your story will revolve around, ask for their permission. You may have to use different names and write a disclaimer.

Your family, close relatives, and friends can also help you fill in the blanks of the parts of the story you don’t quite remember.

Include Important Elements

These elements can be both positive and negative. It will include emotional events that help to humanize you. Remember, no one is perfect, and this will make your story realistic.

In recounting events in your life, you now have the advantage of hindsight. This can help you convey your thoughts at the time and explain what led you to certain decisions.

Give Your Story an Appropriate Ending

Your life will go on. However, for your autobiography or memoir, you need to provide your readers with an ending. It should be one that reveals lessons learned from your experiences.

Additional Tips

Some additional tips on how to write an autobiography book include:

  • Write in first person
  • Read other memoirs and biographies
  • Take time off after you write your first draft
  • Proofread and refine it and get input from family and friends

The editing process can be intense. You can choose to do it yourself or hire someone. Remember, there will be many drafts before you get to the final one.

Hire a Professional Ghostwriter

You’re certain you want to tell your story. Yet you keep asking yourself,  How do I write a book about my life ?  This might indicate that you can’t see yourself doing the steps above. And that’s okay.

Despite now knowing how to write a book about your life, you can choose to have someone else do it for you. Hire a professional ghostwriter to write a biography. A biography is the story of your life written by someone else.

You simply provide the writer with the information. What’s great about this is that you don’t even have to write it down. Ghostwriters conduct a series of interviews. They’ll ask pertinent questions and will do the research needed.

It’s a great option if you’re not confident about your writing or you don’t believe you’ll tell the story well. It’s often easier to focus on recounting events than writing about them.

Ghostwriters are versed in:

  • Keeping the language of the story understandable
  • Studying potential audiences and writing with them in mind
  • Using strategies that tell your story in the most meaningful way possible

They’re also unbiased. This ensures your story doesn’t come across as a romanticized, unrealistic version of you. Instead, they will tell your story in a way that honors your experiences.

A Life Story That Truly Reflects Who You Are

The task can still be daunting despite having a guide on how to write a book about your life. You’ll need to commit the time and energy to see it through. Unfortunately, it may take even longer if you’re not a natural storyteller.

But you don’t have to be. The writers at Storysavor can tell your story for you.

If you’re interested in preserving your life story, consider working with a  professional biography writer  . We’ll ensure your story is impactful and truly reflects who you are.

Schedule a call today to learn more about our services and how we can help you share your story with the world.

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how to write a book about your life

How to write your life story: 7 tips to start

Aspiring autobiographers often mail us asking, ‘how can I write my own story?’ Try these 7 life writing tips to start:

  • Post author By Jordan
  • 64 Comments on How to write your life story: 7 tips to start

how to write a book about your life

Aspiring autobiographers often mail us asking, ‘how can I write my own personal story?’

How can I craft a compelling narrative?’ It can seem like a daunting task writing and researching your life experiences.

It can be a challenging writing project, but a valuable and creative one. It’s a chance to organise the narrative arc of your life, key impactful moments in your life, reappraise where you’ve been and where you’re going. You’ll also see what life lessons you have experienced and can share that with readers. It can be a rewarding creative writing project. 

There are several book genres to consider when writing a life story: autobiography (a whole sweep of a life), memoir (which tends to focus on a theme, or a particular time in one’s history), or an essay collection. 

Try these seven life writing tips to start:

1. Decide whether you’ll write non-fiction or fictionalize

There are many ways to approach life writing. You could follow a non-fiction approach and set down dates, facts and memories as close to events as they occurred as possible.

Another option is to fictionalize and blur the line between fact and fiction. This approach to life writing may be useful if you want to:

  • Protect your identity or those of others while writing about trauma or difficult subject matter
  • Experiment with elements of fiction and a playful approach even if you are wanting to write it as a nonfiction book of real-life events. 

Hedi Lampert, one of our writing coaches, takes this approach in her fictionalized memoir, My Life with my Aunt. Although it’s based on a true story, there are many fictionalised elements in it.

Although you might go with a non-fiction approach, add all the elements of fiction that you need to. For example, include strong characters (build them up in the reader’s mind), flesh out the supporting cast, include description, use the five senses as much as possible, include dialogue, and so on. 

Example of experimental life writing: Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes

The French theorist Roland Barthes begins his memoirs with a preface that reads:

It must all be considered as if spoken by a character in a novel. Roland Barthes,  Roland Barthes  (1977).

Barthes proceeds to give the reader fragments written in the third person , alternating with captioned photographs from his youth. For example, in one fragment titled ‘Arrogance’ he writes:

He has no affection for proclamations of victory. Troubled by the humiliations of others, whenever a victory appears somewhere, he wants to go somewhere else . Barthes,  Roland Barthes ,  p. 46.

Describing himself in the third person, Barthes gives the reader insights into his views and values, as an ordinary autobiography might . Yet in their fragmentary, third-person presentation (without narrative), they become like brief, philosophical musings, rather than a traditional linear ‘story’ with character development. The memoir is told very much in the voice of a theorist and scholar of language.

How to write your story - quote by Mary Karr | Now Novel

2. Choose an approach to time

Time is an interesting element to conside r when deciding how to write your life story.

For example, will your book cover birth to the present day? Or a few weeks or months spanning either side of a momentous life event?

First-person narrators in fiction give us examples of narrative approaches to time we can also adopt in writing about our lives.

For example, the title character of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield begins his story by describing the setting for his birth:

To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night. Charles Dickens,  David Copperfield  (1850), p. 5 (1992 Wordsworth Editions).

After detailing the day and time of his birth, David goes into closer setting detail:

I was born at Blunderstone, in Suffolk, or ‘thereby,’ as they say in Scotland. I was a posthumous child. My father’s eyes had closed upon the light of this world six months, when mine opened on it. Dickens,  David Copperfield,  p. 6.

This approach to time gives a linear sense of the way a life progresses, from childhood. It’s a common narrative approach in many bildungsromans (coming-of-age stories).

You can also, however, experiment with time in writing your life story.

You could start with a significant event that happened later in adulthood, for example, and circle back to past scenes that illuminate backstory and help the reader to understand what led up to later events.

As you plan how you’ll write  time in your life story, ask, ‘What would provide the strongest dramatic effect?’

Begin Your Story with Confidence

Delve into your life story with our Kickstart Your Novel course. Over six weeks, gain the clarity and direction needed to start writing compellingly about your experiences.

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3. Do what you need to set aside any fear

Many writers feel daunted when embarking on a new project. This is often particularly acute when writing about more personal experiences or real life where you don’t have the protective veil of fictional characters.

When the acclaimed biographer of Virginia Woolf, Hermione Lee, was asked whether fear is a useful emotion for a biographer, she replied:

The fear has to be channeled somehow into the energy of the work. While you’re doing it, I think you have to feel that she is yours and you alone understand her. But in order to arrive at that feeling you have to deal with, and master, your apprehension. Hermione Lee, interview in ‘Hermione Lee, The Art of Biography No. 4’ for The Paris Review, available here . 

Lee goes on to describe how the biographer Richard Homes coped with this feeling. He said:

I get to my desk every morning and I hear these little voices saying, ‘He doesn’t know what he’s doing!’ and I raise my arm and I just sweep , I sweep them off the desk.’

Find your own way to silence any fear, be it changing key figures’ names or even fictionalizing your life entirely.

Personal Guidance on Your Journey

Writing your life story is a journey of discovery and reflection. Navigate it with an expert by your side. Our private coaching offers personalized feedback, encouragement, and the critical insights needed to transform your personal experiences into a captivating narrative. Let us help you tell your story with authenticity and emotional depth.

Now Novel writer

4. Summarize significant events to cover

Any one person’s life is a massive archive or trove of significant experiences and memories. As Hermione Lee says, the immensity of this ‘source material’ can feel overwhelming.

As a preparatory step in deciding how to write your life story, summarize key events you want to include. Try to write just two lines for each incident or scene you’re thinking of including (you can create and organize scene summaries in our Scene Builder tool ). This will help you plot the key points of your life story, and may even help you with arranging the story thematically. If not already apparent, the narrative arc of your story will become apparent.

You’ll also see what life lessons you have experienced and can share that with readers. Remember you don’t have to write your entire life story from year dot.

Another important point is to remember to describe in detail. Sometimes when we are writing from memory or the ‘mind’s eye’, because the landscape in our recollections is familiar to us, we sometimes don’t describe things. We might say, ‘We lived in that house for ten years.’ We can see the house, because it’s so deep in our memory, but the reader can’t. Describe the house: ‘It had redbrick and a red tiled roof and small windows that let in hardly any light.’ That tells the reader a lot more than ‘that house’.

At the heart of great life writing (as with great fiction), there’s often a main internal conflict and/or an external conflict. A key tension or experience the autobiographer confronts. Tweet This

For example:

  • A moment of awakening or discovery of purpose
  • Family or personal trauma
  • Career or financial difficulties: retrenchment, having to sell your home 
  • Relationship troubles
  • A breakup or divorce 
  • Birth of a child
  • Death of someone significant

What core experience (or group of experiences) will your story frame?

5. Allow your authentic voice

As in fiction, in life writing the voice of the memoir author helps to create a distinct sense of character.

The acclaimed memoirist and poet Mary Karr gives excellent advice to aspiring life-writers on voice in her book The Art of Memoir (2015). Writes Karr:

Each great memoir lives or dies based 100 percent on voice. It’s the delivery system for the author’s experience—the big bandwidth cable that carries in lustrous clarity every pixel of someone’s inner and outer experiences. Mary Karr,  The Art of Memoir  (2015), p. 35.

Karr cautions against covering up aspects of your own voice to appear more palatable a person to readers. She says:

The voice should permit a range of emotional tones – too wise-ass, and it denies pathos; too pathetic, and it’s shrill. It sets and varies distance from both the material and the reader – from cool and diffident to high-strung and close. The writer doesn’t choose these styles so much as he’s born to them, based on who he is and how he experienced the past. Karr, p. 36.

Infographic on how to write your life story | Now Novel

6. Avoid telling the truth in oversimplified terms

In Karr’s chapter, ‘The Truth Contract Twixt Writer and Reader’, she discusses the value of telling the truth (rather than ‘pumping yourself up’ for your audience):

How does telling the truth help a reader’s experience, though? Let’s say you had an awful childhood – tortured and mocked and starved every day – hit hard with belts and hoses, etc. You could write a repetitive, duller-than-a-rubber-knife misery memoir. But would that be “true”? And true to how you keep it boxed up now, or to lived experience back then? Back then, those same abusers probably fed you something, or you’d have died. Karr, p. 2.

What Karr’s words strike at is that the ‘truth’ is often something more complex than what makes us look good (or others look bad).

One of the important lessons in learning how to write your life story is how to portray people not simply as heroes and villains. Indeed, to rather show the bits of life between people’s better and worse choices that flesh out more complex portraits, with more colours (and more shades of grey). As Karr says:

It’s the disparities in your childhood, your life between ass-whippings, that throws past pain into stark relief for a reader. Karr, p. 2.

Your Life, Your Story

Ready to write your life story but not sure where to start? Sign up for a Now Novel account. Brainstorm your story idea, create compelling character profiles, and share your work for community feedback. Begin crafting your life narrative today.

7. Get help pulling your life story into shape

Writing memoir or a fictionalized autobiography is challenging because you are dealing not only with the standard elements of story (conflict, narrative, voice and more) but also personal areas. Some of these may be more challenging to revisit (or capture in prose) than others.

Due to the many challenges involved (including the challenge of subjectivity), don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Karr writes about sending people she’s included in memoirs manuscript drafts to ensure embellishment does not disservice the person or the story. Beta readers may provide valuable input, more so if they were bystanders or active participants in the events you describe.

You can also get help from a writing coach who will help you begin weaving personal experience and anecdote into a better, fuller story.

Related Posts:

  • How to write a biography: 7 life-writing ideas
  • How to write memoir: 9 ideas for a vivid slice of life
  • How do you write a dystopian story? 5 tips
  • Tags how to start writing a memoir

how to write a book about your life

Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

64 replies on “How to write your life story: 7 tips to start”

am 15 yrs old I’m writing my own story.Thanks

Hi Desmond, good luck writing your story. Thank you for reading our articles!

Hello. I enjoyed reading your tips, in fact I am copying them off for reference if that is ok. I began the memoir/life story before and lost all my data with computer failure. Dumb me, lesson learned to back things up on a couple of flash drives so that doesn’t happen again. So, I am beginning again, after reading your notes here that may have been a blessing in disguise as I have learned so much reading your article. Thank you for publishing this, it will be invaluable as I begin again!! 🙂

Hi Jenny, thank you for reading! Please do feel free to copy anything for reference. I’m so sorry to hear about your data loss, that is frustrating. Glad you’re creating backups this time around, though. Have a creative, inspired 2021, from all of us at Now Novel.

Good day I don’t have a comment but I would love to write my life story as I know it could you help me on this matter thank you.

Hi Catherine, thank you for sharing that. Go for it! I would say start by creating a list of life events you feel would be important to include. Look within them for a good starting point, is there a specific, pivotal event out of which the rest of your life story could unfold in narrative?

If you share a little more about what aspect of your life is compelling you to write (you can email us at [email protected] ) I’m sure we can provide more detailed, specific help.

Hi Jordan, am happy that this morning i came across your article, the artcle mae a good start of writing my own life story. i have been thinking on how to start for a while but now i see my path. Thanks.

Hi Joyce, I’m happy to hear that this article was helpful and you can see the path ahead. I hope you make great progress and discover many moments of excitement and revelation as you proceed.

[…] […]

Hand written my not finished book of 350 A4 Pages

Hi Freda, that sounds like an epic, impressive to have written it by hand. Good luck with what remains of the process.

Hi, my son gave me an empty book pages cover with my childhood pictures.I started some lines. Actually I was searching a writer about my Sisters life story which is very interesting. You’re Tips are good.

Hi Cloty, that sounds a lovely gesture on your son’s part. It’s interesting that you’d like to write your sister’s life story, is there a reason you’d prefer to write about her life rather than your own? Good luck with it, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed our articles.

Very good guide lines

Thank you, Cloty!

I’ve given a lot of thought to writing my story, and haven’t been sure how to get started. I’ve finally been doing some digging, and came across this article. My experience to date is blogging, so a book seems intimidating, but broken down like this it’s a little less scary. I think I’ll create an account here, see what else you have to offer!

Hi Tara, thank you for sharing that. Being a blogger you already have some good writing experience, I’m sure. That is the trick, breaking it down into manageable, less daunting tasks. Please do, and thanks for reading our blog!

Hello Jordan. I am writing a life story but specifically the love interests and most memorable experiences. Your tips have been so helpful. My main problem is that I don’t know whether to write separate chapters for each or separate short stories for each because the timelines overlap a lot. Please help.

Hi Lindo, I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found the Now Novel blog helpful. It depends whether you have a running narrative thread (if the individual love stories add up to a specific outcome or growth or other arc) or each is more fragmentary/discontinuous (despite the timeline overlap).

If the latter, I would suggest short stories as if there’s no narrative end-point (for example, a new learning or insight these love interests and experiences lead to), then each might be more self-contained. Sending the stories as a collection to an editor would likely help, as this would firstly polish the individual pieces but an evaluation could also give insights into how to connect them all together.

I hope this is helpful, keep going!

Hello and thank you. I enjoyed reading your article. I am considering writing my life story however I am not sure of whether I would like to write an actual tell all/novel/biography-book or if I would actually like to write a screenplay instead. A lot of your methods can be translated the same way when writing a screenplay. I would eventually like my story to become a movie. Should I write the book 1st or just go straight to the screenplay? Which is a better route?

Hi Tony, thank you for your interesting question. Many screenplays are based on novels or biographies and I think it helps to write in book-from first, since you then have the shape of the story down, the research (if needed) and other elements such as characterization in place. From there you could whittle and carve the best possible use of mise en scene , dialogue etc. out of what you have. It would be an interesting way to build a sound framework for a tauter screenplay in other words, I’d say.

I need to write my life stories but is confused. I know it can change someone’s life or journey . I have been saying this for 20 years or more ….why am I not doing it ? ….

Hi Dawn, thank you for sharing that. All I will say is: Start! 🙂 And thank you for reading our blog.

I want to write my life stories very interesting, but some negative idea comes to my mind. That is my story is not so much important, i am not knowen person any field of work,…etc. But now i get clues ,so i am initate to write my own autobiography.

Hi Zenenbe, I’m glad you’re writing regardless of those doubts. It’s natural to have doubts, but there are stories worth telling and sharing in every life – whether the teller is famous/well-known or not ?. Good luck!

Your tips are very helpful. I have started entering short stories competitions (written in first person)for practice! Now starting on Fictional/factual life story and find Tip 1 and 3 helpful to give my characters fictional names and feel comfortable also using 3rd person i.e.she. Also more confident about introducing fictional events into my story to make it more compelling for the reader while still being authentic.

Hi Lyn, I’m glad you found this helpful. It’s great you’re entering short story competitions, that’s great practice. Absolutely, many non-fiction authors embellish for the sake of story. Good luck with your contest entries!

Wonderful article. Just wanted to let you know of a new service that helps you in putting together your life story. It makes writing your story fun. And then brings your story to life

Hi Etan, thank you and thanks for sharing your web app for memoir-writing, it looks interesting.

It’s been long overdue, I’m 54 yrs old now. I finally have come to terms in writing an autobiography of myself. Life experiences I have encountered from my 1st memory as a child. At the age of 4yrs old, the year was 1971 Christmas Eve. First memory to my life awaken by the Jaws of life. My mind has been a camera through every moment in my life. What would be read on the publisher end, would be so intrigued to see all the drama, hardships. Caught up in how I survived my dilemmas, with all to be said, physically be right their with me. So consumed from your start of my life to relive my nightmare. Totally lost on how I still have so much compassion & love till this day. Never a dull moment adventure ,trauma, abuse, raped, child molesters. I’m ready to bring it all to an end to start a life I was expected to do as child in middle school. Looking forward to replaying the camera that has consumed my eyes & life experiences. Not sure where I will have to submit my book when I have achieved my story.

Hi Kathleen, thank you for sharing that. It’s never too late to share one’s life story (and from the subject matter you mentioned, I’m sure your courage in telling your story could greatly help others who’ve been through similar life experiences). I’m glad you’re looking forward to the process – go for it. Once you have a first draft you could think about submission (for now I’d say focus on the task at hand which is getting the first version of your story down).

I find the article really useful.Thank you so much for the enlightenment. I have more than twice in my lifetime thought of sharing my life story through a book,but have often felt like it was a load of work to do so. But reading through your article and also reading through the comment section,I feel like its the right time.Thank you so much for being an inspiration especially with me as a beginner.

Hi Mere, it’s a pleasure, thank you for reading our blog and for sharing that. Writing is a lot of work, but it’s rewarding work I’d say. I hope you enjoy the process. Feel free to join our writing groups where you can chat to others at a similar stage of the journey.

That is nice,and thanks for that

Ok,I need your help more

Hi Mary, thank you for reading our blog and a Happy New Year to you. What would you like help with? Please feel free to mail us any questions at help at now novel dot com.

Hi , i wanted to write my life story, how to start?? Any help?

Hi Hana, thank you for sharing your question. I would start by brainstorming a list of key/significant events in your life you want to include, as these you can then plan scenes and scene structure around; once you know what experiences in your life you want to tell most. As a guiding principle, I’d suggest brainstorming incidents that are:

  • Emotionally impactful – wins, losses, trials, turning points
  • Illustrative – of where you’re from, who you are, what you value and have learned or overcome

This is a loose starting point but I would say is a good preparatory process for sifting through memories and ideas and finding topics and subtopics to organize your life story around. I hope this helps!

Thank you sir Jordan for sharing these tips. I am planning to write my life story. However, I’ll write a story because of the problems and negative things that happened to me in the past and I’m a little bit shame about my experiences but I want to make a story that can inspire many and motivate them. I also ask on how to start writing. Is there any chapter? and how to divide some events of your life into writing a story.

Hi Joash, it’s a pleasure, and thank you for sharing this. Life-writing can be hard because of this – that there are often traumas and painful experiences one wants to write about but there is often fear attached as sometimes society tells us these areas are taboo; that we aren’t allowed to talk about them.

A writing teacher gave a writing circle I belonged to great advice once – ‘turn the family portraits to the wall’ (in other words, banish silencing figures and, ‘What would uncle so-and-so say?’ from your writing space, if possible). You can edit for sensitivity/intensity in the passages that are uncomfortable later if necessary, but the first draft is for telling yourself the story, and nobody else’s potentially shaming perspectives matter at this stage.

There are many places to start. One of the classic autobiographical starting points is when you were born (what year, place, era, political moment). I would suggest reading a few biographies and taking notes on the opening to see the many possibilities. Ask whether the beginning is effective, what information the author focuses on, whether they start with a description, a statement, or something else. A great biographer to read is Hermione Lee – she has written many acclaimed biographies of famous writers and artists.


It’s a pleasure, Gladys! No need for honorary titles 😊 just ‘Jordan’ is fine. Thank you for reading our blog.

Hi Jordon it’s nice we can communicate with you and take ideas from you I want to start writing and I’m so pleased to know you !

Hi Randa, thank you for reaching out and for reading our blog – it’s good to meet you.

I have been mulling over writing my life story and being asked by many to do so, however, have no clue where to start. I could not write using my own name as the need for my protection for others is immense. What would you suggest?

Thank you for reading this article and for your question. I would suggest changing names if necessary and writing under your own name. You could also change a few fundamental details in the story arcs of the others you wish to protect (and make it so-called creative non-fiction) so as to further obscure their identity or the possibility of readers connecting the story back to the real people involved. If it is possible, you could also ask anyone who features whom you personally know for their permission to be included as a character in your memoir. If they wish to remain anonymous, then changing their name (and some details as suggested above) would help to protect their privacy.

I hope this helps.

Hi Jordan, have been difficulties on to start my life story,what is the best title for the story do i need to mention names.

Hi Gristone, it’s difficult to advise on a title not knowing anything about the scope or subject matter of your memoir. My suggestion would be to look at the memoir and autobiography titles currently selling well and study titles for ideas – where do the titles draw from? The person’s vocation or profession, a specific aspect of their personality, a specific life experience or struggle they overcame?

If you mean mentioning names in your title, not necessarily. It could be descriptive or it could be more straight-up, e.g. ‘[Name}: [Descriptive phrase]’. I hope this helps.

I been searching and collect some ideas how to start my life story which i think can give inspiration , for those who lost hope in life.

Thank you Jordan for this write-up. I plan to write the story of my life and I needed a guide as to how to start.

Hi Ogbu, it’s my pleasure. I hope it was helpful and wish you a good experience in writing your life story. Let me know if you have any further questions.

My book I have been working on for many years has been my life story of more trauma that seems unreal I started from birth of what I read from mom’s and grandma’s diaries in their words then what I remembered. From birth to 15 . Childhood secrets to motherhood at 16 domestic violence and drug abuse. Marriage 25 years of escaping after 9 attempts divorced never free. Stauked violated for years. Gas lighting still to this day and I am 59 years old soon. With the knowledge I know things I would have done differently and want to pass on that to anyone it may help. The name of my book is Broken -Post Vietnam untold stories of a military family what happened after the war. It’s a story of molestation, shame , guilt ,PTSD a lifetime of struggle . A mentally wounded father. And generational mentally wounded family. Most dysfunctional family hidden behind closed doors

Hi Patricia, I’m truly sorry to hear that you’ve been through such traumatic experiences and I commend you for wanting to help others through writing your life story. It’s important as a society we talk about these things and don’t just sweep them under the rug, but it is brave to confront them and bring them to light (and healing, I hope) too. Best of luck with your story. It sounds particularly interesting in that it touches on what it’s like being in a military family, as I know people who had similar experiences in military families. War is traumatizing on multiple levels and its deleterious impact is far-reaching.

hi Jordan, I have always been a bit of a story teller, all through my life in fact. I never really attended school but after my children I decided to go to college as part of an access course into nursing. one of the modules was English at A Level equivalent. I achieved a B in my written work But an A* in my Oral exam. I know this doesn’t make me a writer and I’m certainly not a reader but I can tell a good story, especially if its something factual happening in my life. I have got to an age in my life where I have lived so much love, loss, happiness and drama, not to mention how different things were back when I was a child to society today and I would like to reflect the stages of my life and how I feel emotionally and mentally. I would like to write my life story fictionally but based on true life events and experiences. This is to protect my identity and that of all the people involved due to the content. I don’t want to do it all in one book, 58 years of living my life couldn’t possibly be captured in one go. please can you advise me on where to start

Hi Lucy, Thanks for getting in touch. The article offers great tips for starting out, but one idea is to start by writing short stories inspired by the different stages in your life. You should reflect on any memories that stand out to you, the key points in your life story, then incorporate the details and the emotions that they evoke. If you need more advice, we can recommend our coach Hedi Lampert who has recently made more slots available in her schedule for new clients.

thank you Jordan for this article honestly it helps me so much and i have a lot to learn from it i am 16 and i am trying to write my life story cause i need to talk about a lot of things about like my trauma , absent father , strict mom that give me no freedom and always controlling , being pressure since 9th grade to get a scholarship and till now i am in 11th going to 12th still be pressure trying to be the perfect daughter , sacrifice happiness and mental health in order to get all A’s and whenever something happened to me i am the only that is always there for myself , whenever i cry i wipe my own tears and it has now get to the point i keep telling myself very soon i will old enough to live my life but every time i try to write the story i don’t know where to start from but reading this article just boost my knowledge and one things that bothered me is fear , i don’t know but every time i try to write something i always have fear or even before i started writing i will just start cry for no reason i think maybe cause i am not ready to write then i will give my self time but the same things will repeat it self so my fear and emotions is always holding me back and i don’t know why that happen but every time fear and emotions hold me back so i have now decided how will write it no matter what even though i will end up with red eyes from crying but i will not let my fear take over me , thank you so much for taking time to read this i will love to hear back

Dear Tee Tee, Thanks for writing in. I’m sorry to hear that it’s difficult for you to write your story. This can be something that stops you from starting. I think it’s useful to begin your story, as this is something you want to write about. If you’re not sure where to start, perhaps start by writing some ideas, an outline of what you’d like to write? Or, you could place ideas/themes that you would like to explore, eg: absent father as one theme, strict mother, another theme, and write some ideas of what you’d like to explore in relation to these themes. Hope these ideas resonate with you. Feel free to write in with any further questions.

I am 16 years old and I am starting to write a story about my life and this reading really helped me learn the steps on how to write it and the examples helped to! Thank you for making this reading. It has helped me so much!!

Hello Nevaeh,

That’s so wonderful to hear! Enjoy the writing process!

Great article, which I will share with my writers’ group. I am about two thirds of the way through the first volume of my memoir and conisdering submitting it to an agent with a proposal. I will get it read and edited by a mentor before I go ahead.

Thanks for your comment John! It’s wonderful that you’re writing a memoir. Good luck with it all!

Thanks so much John. Good luck with your memoir!

This really helped Thank you!

I’m so pleased to hear that. Good luck with your own life writing.

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If you’ve thought about putting your life to the page, you may have wondered how to write a memoir. We start the road to writing a memoir when we realize that a story in our lives demands to be told. As Maya Angelou once wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

How to write a memoir? At first glance, it looks easy enough—easier, in any case, than writing fiction. After all, there is no need to make up a story or characters, and the protagonist is none other than you.

Still, memoir writing carries its own unique challenges, as well as unique possibilities that only come from telling your own true story. Let’s dive into how to write a memoir by looking closely at the craft of memoir writing, starting with a key question: exactly what is a memoir?

How to Write a Memoir: Contents

What is a Memoir?

  • Memoir vs Autobiography

Memoir Examples

Short memoir examples.

  • How to Write a Memoir: A Step-by-Step Guide

A memoir is a branch of creative nonfiction , a genre defined by the writer Lee Gutkind as “true stories, well told.” The etymology of the word “memoir,” which comes to us from the French, tells us of the human urge to put experience to paper, to remember. Indeed, a memoir is “ something written to be kept in mind .”

A memoir is defined by Lee Gutkind as “true stories, well told.”

For a piece of writing to be called a memoir, it has to be:

  • Nonfictional
  • Based on the raw material of your life and your memories
  • Written from your personal perspective

At this point, memoirs are beginning to sound an awful lot like autobiographies. However, a quick comparison of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love , and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin , for example, tells us that memoirs and autobiographies could not be more distinct.

Next, let’s look at the characteristics of a memoir and what sets memoirs and autobiographies apart. Discussing memoir vs. autobiography will not only reveal crucial insights into the process of writing a memoir, but also help us to refine our answer to the question, “What is a memoir?”

Memoir vs. Autobiography

While both use personal life as writing material, there are five key differences between memoir and autobiography:

1. Structure

Since autobiographies tell the comprehensive story of one’s life, they are more or less chronological. writing a memoir, however, involves carefully curating a list of personal experiences to serve a larger idea or story, such as grief, coming-of-age, and self-discovery. As such, memoirs do not have to unfold in chronological order.

While autobiographies attempt to provide a comprehensive account, memoirs focus only on specific periods in the writer’s life. The difference between autobiographies and memoirs can be likened to that between a CV and a one-page resume, which includes only select experiences.

The difference between autobiographies and memoirs can be likened to that between a CV and a one-page resume, which includes only select experiences.

Autobiographies prioritize events; memoirs prioritize the writer’s personal experience of those events. Experience includes not just the event you might have undergone, but also your feelings, thoughts, and reflections. Memoir’s insistence on experience allows the writer to go beyond the expectations of formal writing. This means that memoirists can also use fiction-writing techniques , such as scene-setting and dialogue , to capture their stories with flair.

4. Philosophy

Another key difference between the two genres stems from the autobiography’s emphasis on facts and the memoir’s reliance on memory. Due to memory’s unreliability, memoirs ask the reader to focus less on facts and more on emotional truth. In addition, memoir writers often work the fallibility of memory into the narrative itself by directly questioning the accuracy of their own memories.

Memoirs ask the reader to focus less on facts and more on emotional truth.

5. Audience

While readers pick up autobiographies to learn about prominent individuals, they read memoirs to experience a story built around specific themes . Memoirs, as such, tend to be more relatable, personal, and intimate. Really, what this means is that memoirs can be written by anybody!

Ready to be inspired yet? Let’s now turn to some memoir examples that have received widespread recognition and captured our imaginations!

If you’re looking to lose yourself in a book, the following memoir examples are great places to begin:

  • The Year of Magical Thinking , which chronicles Joan Didion’s year of mourning her husband’s death, is certainly one of the most powerful books on grief. Written in two short months, Didion’s prose is urgent yet lucid, compelling from the first page to the last. A few years later, the writer would publish Blue Nights , another devastating account of grief, only this time she would be mourning her daughter.
  • Patti Smith’s Just Kids is a classic coming-of-age memoir that follows the author’s move to New York and her romance and friendship with the artist Robert Maplethorpe. In its pages, Smith captures the energy of downtown New York in the late sixties and seventies effortlessly.
  • When Breath Becomes Air begins when Paul Kalanithi, a young neurosurgeon, is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Exquisite and poignant, this memoir grapples with some of the most difficult human experiences, including fatherhood, mortality, and the search for meaning.
  • A memoir of relationship abuse, Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House is candid and innovative in form. Machado writes about thorny and turbulent subjects with clarity, even wit. While intensely personal, In the Dream House is also one of most insightful pieces of cultural criticism.
  • Twenty-five years after leaving for Canada, Michael Ondaatje returns to his native Sri Lanka to sort out his family’s past. The result is Running in the Family , the writer’s dazzling attempt to reconstruct fragments of experiences and family legends into a portrait of his parents’ and grandparents’ lives. (Importantly, Running in the Family was sold to readers as a fictional memoir; its explicit acknowledgement of fictionalization prevented it from encountering the kind of backlash that James Frey would receive for fabricating key facts in A Million Little Pieces , which he had sold as a memoir . )
  • Of the many memoirs published in recent years, Tara Westover’s Educated is perhaps one of the most internationally-recognized. A story about the struggle for self-determination, Educated recounts the writer’s childhood in a survivalist family and her subsequent attempts to make a life for herself. All in all, powerful, thought-provoking, and near impossible to put down.

While book-length memoirs are engaging reads, the prospect of writing a whole book can be intimidating. Fortunately, there are plenty of short, essay-length memoir examples that are just as compelling.

While memoirists often write book-length works, you might also consider writing a memoir that’s essay-length. Here are some short memoir examples that tell complete, lived stories, in far fewer words:

  • “ The Book of My Life ” offers a portrait of a professor that the writer, Aleksandar Hemon, once had as a child in communist Sarajevo. This memoir was collected into Hemon’s The Book of My Lives , a collection of essays about the writer’s personal history in wartime Yugoslavia and subsequent move to the US.
  • “The first time I cheated on my husband, my mother had been dead for exactly one week.” So begins Cheryl Strayed’s “ The Love of My Life ,” an essay that the writer eventually expanded into the best-selling memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail .
  • In “ What We Hunger For ,” Roxane Gay weaves personal experience and a discussion of The Hunger Games into a powerful meditation on strength, trauma, and hope. “What We Hunger For” can also be found in Gay’s essay collection, Bad Feminist .
  • A humorous memoir structured around David Sedaris and his family’s memories of pets, “ The Youth in Asia ” is ultimately a story about grief, mortality and loss. This essay is excerpted from the memoir Me Talk Pretty One Day , and a recorded version can be found here .

So far, we’ve 1) answered the question “What is a memoir?” 2) discussed differences between memoirs vs. autobiographies, 3) taken a closer look at book- and essay-length memoir examples. Next, we’ll turn the question of how to write a memoir.

How to Write a Memoir: A-Step-by-Step Guide

1. how to write a memoir: generate memoir ideas.

how to start a memoir? As with anything, starting is the hardest. If you’ve yet to decide what to write about, check out the “ I Remember ” writing prompt. Inspired by Joe Brainard’s memoir I Remember , this prompt is a great way to generate a list of memories. From there, choose one memory that feels the most emotionally charged and begin writing your memoir. It’s that simple! If you’re in need of more prompts, our Facebook group is also a great resource.

2. How to Write a Memoir: Begin drafting

My most effective advice is to resist the urge to start from “the beginning.” Instead, begin with the event that you can’t stop thinking about, or with the detail that, for some reason, just sticks. The key to drafting is gaining momentum . Beginning with an emotionally charged event or detail gives us the drive we need to start writing.

3. How to Write a Memoir: Aim for a “ shitty first draft ”

Now that you have momentum, maintain it. Attempting to perfect your language as you draft makes it difficult to maintain our impulses to write. It can also create self-doubt and writers’ block. Remember that most, if not all, writers, no matter how famous, write shitty first drafts.

Attempting to perfect your language as you draft makes it difficult to maintain our impulses to write.

4. How to Write a Memoir: Set your draft aside

Once you have a first draft, set it aside and fight the urge to read it for at least a week. Stephen King recommends sticking first drafts in your drawer for at least six weeks. This period allows writers to develop the critical distance we need to revise and edit the draft that we’ve worked so hard to write.

5. How to Write a Memoir: Reread your draft

While reading your draft, note what works and what doesn’t, then make a revision plan. While rereading, ask yourself:

  • What’s underdeveloped, and what’s superfluous.
  • Does the structure work?
  • What story are you telling?

6. How to Write a Memoir: Revise your memoir and repeat steps 4 & 5 until satisfied

Every piece of good writing is the product of a series of rigorous revisions. Depending on what kind of writer you are and how you define a draft,” you may need three, seven, or perhaps even ten drafts. There’s no “magic number” of drafts to aim for, so trust your intuition. Many writers say that a story is never, truly done; there only comes a point when they’re finished with it. If you find yourself stuck in the revision process, get a fresh pair of eyes to look at your writing.

7. How to Write a Memoir: Edit, edit, edit!

Once you’re satisfied with the story, begin to edit the finer things (e.g. language, metaphor , and details). Clean up your word choice and omit needless words , and check to make sure you haven’t made any of these common writing mistakes . Be sure to also know the difference between revising and editing —you’ll be doing both. Then, once your memoir is ready, send it out !

Learn How to Write a Memoir at

Writing a memoir for the first time can be intimidating. But, keep in mind that anyone can learn how to write a memoir. Trust the value of your own experiences: it’s not about the stories you tell, but how you tell them. Most importantly, don’t give up!

Anyone can learn how to write a memoir.

If you’re looking for additional feedback, as well as additional instruction on how to write a memoir, check out our schedule of nonfiction classes . Now, get started writing your memoir!


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Thank you for this website. It’s very engaging. I have been writing a memoir for over three years, somewhat haphazardly, based on the first half of my life and its encounters with ignorance (religious restrictions, alcohol, and inability to reach out for help). Three cities were involved: Boston as a youngster growing up and going to college, then Washington DC and Chicago North Shore as a married woman with four children. I am satisfied with some chapters and not with others. Editing exposes repetition and hopefully discards boring excess. Reaching for something better is always worth the struggle. I am 90, continue to be a recital pianist, a portrait painter, and a writer. Hubby has been dead for nine years. Together we lept a few of life’s chasms and I still miss him. But so far, my occupations keep my brain working fairly well, especially since I don’t smoke or drink (for the past 50 years).

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Hi Mary Ellen,

It sounds like a fantastic life for a memoir! Thank you for sharing, and best of luck finishing your book. Let us know when it’s published!

Best, The Team

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Hello Mary Ellen,

I am contacting you because your last name (Lavelle) is my middle name!

Being interested in genealogy I have learned that this was my great grandfathers wife’s name (Mary Lavelle), and that her family emigrated here about 1850 from County Mayo, Ireland. That is also where my fathers family came from.

Is your family background similar?

Hope to hear back from you.

Richard Lavelle Bourke

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Hi Mary Ellen: Have you finished your memoir yet? I just came across your post and am seriously impressed that you are still writing. I discovered it again at age 77 and don’t know what I would do with myself if I couldn’t write. All the best to you!! Sharon [email protected]

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I am up to my eyeballs with a research project and report for a non-profit. And some paid research for an international organization. But as today is my 90th birthday, it is time to retire and write a memoir.

So I would like to join a list to keep track of future courses related to memoir / creative non-fiction writing.

Hi Frederick,

Happy birthday! And happy retirement as well. I’ve added your name and email to our reminder list for memoir courses–when we post one on our calendar, we’ll send you an email.

We’ll be posting more memoir courses in the near future, likely for the months of January and February 2022. We hope to see you in one!

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Very interesting and informative, I am writing memoirs from my long often adventurous and well travelled life, have had one very short story published. Your advice on several topics will be extremely helpful. I write under my schoolboy nickname Barnaby Rudge.

[…] How to Write a Memoir: Examples and a Step-by-Step Guide […]

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I am writing my memoir from my memory when I was 5 years old and now having left my birthplace I left after graduation as a doctor I moved to UK where I have been living. In between I have spent 1 year in Canada during my training year as paediatrician. I also spent nearly 2 years with British Army in the hospital as paediatrician in Germany. I moved back to UK to work as specialist paediatrician in a very busy general hospital outside London for the next 22 years. Then I retired from NHS in 2012. I worked another 5 years in Canada until 2018. I am fully retired now

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I have the whole convoluted story of my loss and horrid aftermath in my head (and heart) but have no clue WHERE, in my story to begin. In the middle of the tragedy? What led up to it? Where my life is now, post-loss, and then write back and forth? Any suggestions?

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My friend Laura who referred me to this site said “Start”! I say to you “Start”!

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Hi Dee, that has been a challenge for me.i dont know where to start?

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What was the most painful? Embarrassing? Delicious? Unexpected? Who helped you? Who hurt you? Pick one story and let that lead you to others.

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I really enjoyed this writing about memoir. I ve just finished my own about my journey out of my city then out of my country to Egypt to study, Never Say Can’t, God Can Do It. Infact memoir writing helps to live the life you are writing about again and to appreciate good people you came across during the journey. Many thanks for sharing what memoir is about.

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I went to Egypt earlier this year. I aspire for my second book to document and tell the story of my travels of Africa, following the first – a memoir that led me to this post.

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I am a survivor of gun violence, having witnessed my adult son being shot 13 times by police in 2014. I have struggled with writing my memoir because I have a grandson who was 18-months old at the time of the tragedy and was also present, as was his biological mother and other family members. We all struggle with PTSD because of this atrocity. My grandson’s biological mother was instrumental in what happened and I am struggling to write the story in such a way as to not cast blame – thus my dilemma in writing the memoir. My grandson was later adopted by a local family in an open adoption and is still a big part of my life. I have considered just writing it and waiting until my grandson is old enough to understand all the family dynamics that were involved. Any advice on how I might handle this challenge in writing would be much appreciated.

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I decided to use a ghost writer, and I’m only part way in the process and it’s worth every penny!

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Hi. I am 44 years old and have had a roller coaster life .. right as a young kid seeing his father struggle to financial hassles, facing legal battles at a young age and then health issues leading to a recent kidney transplant. I have been working on writing a memoir sharing my life story and titled it “A memoir of growth and gratitude” Is it a good idea to write a memoir and share my story with the world?

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Thank you… this was very helpful. I’m writing about the troubling issues of my mental health, and how my life was seriously impacted by that. I am 68 years old.

[…] How to Write a Memoir […]

[…] “How to Write a Memoir” […]

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I am so grateful that I found this site! I am inspired and encouraged to start my memoir because of the site’s content and the brave people that have posted in the comments.

Finding this site is going into my gratitude journey 🙂

We’re grateful you found us too, Nichol! 🙂

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Firstly, I would like to thank you for all the info pertaining to memoirs. I believe am on the right track, am at the editing stage and really have to use an extra pair of eyes. I’m more motivated now to push it out and complete it. Thanks for the tips it was very helpful, I have a little more confidence it seeing the completion.

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Well, I’m super excited to begin my memoir. It’s hard trying to rely on memories alone, but I’m going to give it a shot!

Thanks to everyone who posted comments, all of which have inspired me to get on it.

Best of luck to everyone! Jody V.

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I was thrilled to find this material on How to Write A Memoir. When I briefly told someone about some of my past experiences and how I came to the United States in the company of my younger brother in a program with a curious name, I was encouraged by that person and others to write my life history.

Based on the name of that curious program through which our parents sent us to the United States so we could leave the place of our birth, and be away from potentially difficult situations in our country.

As I began to write my history I took as much time as possible to describe all the different steps that were taken. At this time – I have been working on this project for 5 years and am still moving ahead. The information I received through your material has further encouraged me to move along. I am very pleased to have found this important material. Thank you!

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Wow! This is such an informative post packed with tangible guidance. I poured my heart into a book. I’ve been a professional creative for years to include as a writer, mainly in the ad game and content. No editor. I wasn’t trying to make it as an author. Looking back, I think it’s all the stuff I needed to say. Therapy. Which does not, in and of itself, make for a coherent book. The level of writing garnering praise, but the book itself was a hot mess. So, this is helpful. I really put myself out there, which I’ve done in many areas, but the crickets response really got to me this time. I bought “Educated” as you recommended. Do you have any blog posts on memoirs that have something to say to the world, finding that “something” to say? It feels like that’s theme, but perhaps something more granular. Thanks for this fantastic post. If I had the moola, I would sign up for a class. Your time is and effort is appreciated. Typos likely on comments! LOL

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thanks. God bless

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I am a member of the “Reprobates”, a group of seven retired Royal Air Force pilots and navigators which has stayed in intermittent touch since we first met in Germany in 1969. Four of the group (all of whom are in their late seventies or early eighties) play golf together quite frequently, and we all gather for reunions once or twice a year. About a year ago, one of the Reprobates suggested posterity might be glad to hear the stories told at these gatherings, and there have since been two professionally conducted recording sessions, one in London, and one in Tarifa, Spain. The instigator of these recordings forwarded your website to his fellow Reprobates by way of encouragement to put pen to paper. And, I, for one, have found it inspiring. It’s high time I made a start on my Memoirs, thank you.

Thank you for sharing this, Tim! Happy writing!

Hi, I’m Jo. I’m finally jumping in and writing the memoir that has been running alongside me for at least the last 5 years. I’m terrified, of what I’m not 100% sure. The story won’t leave me alone and right now is the time to start my first draft. I’m approaching half way through what nature may call natural life on Earth, mid-life sounds strange to say. It just feels like the right time to document the journey thus far – especially the last decade. It’s been a radical time for transformation, internally and externally. I’m afraid but your post and these comments have helped.

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Good luck on your memoir, Jo! I’m excited to hear more.

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Gatekeeper Press

How To Write a Book About Your Life: 9 Tips and Tricks

by Gatekeeper Press | Oct 4, 2022 | Writing

Author writing a book about herself.

If you happen to have led a rather interesting life or have navigated some unique challenges, your friends, family members, or colleagues may be encouraging you to write a book about your life. However intriguing a proposition this is, writing a book about your life can feel pretty daunting. We understand that you might not know where to start this process of writing your personal story.

This handy guide can help you take those first fundamental steps toward creating an amazing memoir or autobiography—or even a narrative nonfiction book. To learn how to write a book about your life, read on.

Tips on How To Write a Book About Your Life

A book project that is based on the true story of your life experiences is a very personal endeavor. Before setting out on this venture, consider your goals as an author. Do you want to inspire the reader? Inform the reader? Entertain the reader? Is this going to be a historical guide for future generations interested in learning about the past? Consider these nonfiction genres as vehicles for telling your life story, and then select the best fit:

  • Memoir. A memoir usually focuses on a particular phase of your life, versus telling your entire life story.
  • Autobiography. This genre includes your life history, from birth to your current age.
  • Narrative nonfiction. This option allows you to tell your life story but in a semi-fictionalized manner.

Once you have chosen a genre for your book, follow these tips to get the project off the ground:

1. Start Journaling Daily

If you are a longtime fan of journaling, you probably have a wealth of material for telling your life story. The further back you started journaling, the more precise you can be in relaying the pivotal events of your life. If writing a book about your life is set as a future goal, start journaling every day to capture your thoughts and feelings, as well as any important details that will add depth to your story. Giving yourself this informal writing space will prove to be invaluable.

2. Interview Friends and Family Members

Sit down with friends and family members to brainstorm, picking their brains about which key events in your life have stood out to them. This can trigger your own memories, while also giving you some objective insights about which life events and time periods to include in the book.

3. Go Through Old Photographs

Set aside some time to rummage through old family photo albums. This process allows you to gather rich details about your past that will make your book more interesting and relatable. Looking back at your life in photos can also spark long-forgotten memories and emotions, which add even more interesting layers to the story.

4. Choose Characters

Regardless of which genre you choose as the vehicle for telling your life story, you need to identify some main characters. Include key figures who have added real meaning to the story of your life, through good times and bad. Provide detailed descriptions of these individuals, and use their unique characteristics and voice in any dialogue.

5. Pick a Point of View (POV)

When writing a book about your own life, you are pretty much limited to a first-person POV. Whether you are writing a memoir or an autobiography , chances are you will narrate the story from your personal point of view. If, however, you have embarked on a narrative nonfiction format to tell your life story, either first or third-person POV would be appropriate.

6. Define Your Theme

Simply stringing together a series of your life events will certainly not make a compelling read. At the outset, decide what the purpose is for writing your life story; what are the central message and the underlying theme you wish to convey? Once determined, you can select the life events in your personal history that align with or perpetuate that particular theme or message.

7. Choose the Format of Your Book

How you ultimately format your book depends largely on the style you have selected—memoir, autobiography, or narrative nonfiction. For example, a nonfiction narrative is probably going to be formatted like a novel, with each chapter telling the story of your life. A memoir, however, may provide more formatting options, such as creating a collection of short essays that tell your life story.

8. Outline, Outline, Outline

As with any book project, starting with an outline helps you organize your thoughts and provides a roadmap for the writing process. Start the outline by listing the major life events you want to include, and a general chronology that you can then expand on as the outline evolves over the course of the project.

9. Try Writing Sprints

If you find yourself frozen, staring mindlessly at a blank page too nervous to write, why not try doing some writing sprints? Set a timer for 20-30 minutes, pick a life event from your outline, and just type away without stopping to edit. After the timed writing period ends, take a 10-minute break and then start the next writing sprint. Writing sprints can help you jumpstart the writing process and get your creative juices flowing.

Get Expert Advice From Gatekeeper Press

If you have decided to share your life story with the world, but lack the confidence or know-how to get the project off the ground, consider partnering with the expert editing team at Gatekeeper Press . We can guide you from start to finish, helping you realize your dream of publishing a compelling book about your life. Call us today at 866-535-0913 or set up a free consultation !

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Writing Your Life Story: How to Write a book about your life


  • July 8, 2023

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Table of Contents:

Why write your life story, how can you write a true story, how to start writing a book about your life, tips for writing a book about your life, prepare beforehand, follow a narrative structure, research your own life, be truthful, fill in realistic details, show your shortcomings, get permission, end on a high note, essential elements and detailed insights.

Writing Your Life Story: How to Write a book about your life

Writing your life story is a great way to remember and share your unique experiences. It lets you talk to others about your knowledge, lessons learned, and personal growth. Writing a manuscript about your life can be an emotional and life-changing experience, whether you want to leave a memory for future generations or connect with readers who may relate to your story.

There are many reasons why you should write your life story. It’s not just a worthy idea — it’s a necessary one.

First, you must get it down on paper (or into cyberspace). You may think you have everything under control now, but someday that will change.

When it does, people will want to know what happened to you, how you became who you are today, where you came from and where you’re going next. What better way for them to learn about those things than by reading about them in your own words?

The second reason is that writing about yourself is therapeutic, much like the process described in Exploring Life’s Journey : An Analysis of Autobiography in Five Short Chapters. — especially if you’ve had some hard times or things haven’t always been as planned. Writing down how those experiences made you feel can help put them behind you once and for all so that they no longer hold any power over your life path today or tomorrow.

Writing your life story can be challenging because you must decide if you want people to know it’s a real story about your life. In that case, it might be better for you to write a memoir.

Here are a few factors to consider if you want to write your life story:

  • Do you want it to be nonfiction, like a memoir?
  • Do you want to tell your life story in chronological order, like an autobiography?
  • Do you want to write a fictional novel book type with elements from your life? If yes, Script Writing Services can help you.
  • Can you be completely honest without being biased?

Writing a fictional book about your life is generally not recommended because your characters may be too perfect, a topic explored in Fiction vs. Non-Fiction: Distinguishing Between Imaginary and Real Narratives. like a “Mary Sue.” This happens because it’s difficult for us to be unbiased when it comes to ourselves. However, if you can write a true story while giving the character based on yourself real flaws, it can work.

The first step to writing a book about your life is finding a starting point. But where should you begin when you have a lifetime of interesting stories?

Start by creating a basic chronology. For guidance, the article How to Build a Portfolio for Freelancers might offer some useful structuring techniques. Make a timeline of your life. If you have chosen a specific topic or theme, focus on the elements in your life that support that topic. These could be the events leading up to a significant moment, the moment itself, or what happened afterward.

You can also include events that have influenced your character or taught you important lessons related to your chosen theme.

If you haven’t decided on a theme yet or prefer to write an autobiography instead of a memoir, create a timeline that covers your entire life. Start with the most significant events that stand out to you. Try to make it as detailed as possible.

Next, look for underlying themes and messages. Remember, you are writing a book, and all books need themes.

Your theme could be healing from childhood trauma or showcasing the value of hard work and dedication, as discussed in Memoir vs. Autobiography : Understanding the Differences. It might focus on how relationships have transformed you or what you have learned from making repeated poor decisions.

As you examine your life, you will notice outlines. These outlines will help shape the overall narrative of your life story.

When you’re ready to write Your Life Story, here are some helpful tips:

Prepare Beforehand. Before you start writing, engage in pre-writing activities. For more detailed preparation steps, consider Book Editing: A Comprehensive Writer’s Outline . This can involve brainstorming or jotting down notes about your life. Free writing also allows your thoughts to flow without a specific structure or prompt. Avoid editing during this stage and allow your mind to make unexpected connections between events and people. If you want help writing your life story, Ghostwriting Founder is the best option.

While real life doesn’t have a perfect story arc, it’s important to follow a basic story structure when writing a memoir or autobiography. This structure includes an introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Look for natural transitions in your life and identify beginnings, high and low points, and endings. Characters are crucial, with yourself as the protagonist and supporting characters being the people you interact with. Highlight conflicts and how you overcame them in each important moment or event. You can add lyrics inspired by your effort to make it more interesting. Song Writing Services can assist you in lyrics making.

Treat your life as a research subject. While you may remember things, you might be fuzzy on the details. Gather old pictures and diaries, and interview people who were part of your life to recall events and gather different perspectives. Use external sources like newspapers for background and setting details. Research helps you present accurate and factual information. For a comprehensive approach, Content Development Services can provide the necessary support.

When writing a memoir or autobiography, telling the truth is crucial. Avoid lying or embellishing events to make them more interesting. Honesty is key to maintaining your credibility as an author. If you’re unsure about specific facts, be transparent and mention that it’s your recollection.

Memories may not be perfect, but you can fill in details in a way that could have been true. Use your creative license to describe likely scenarios based on your past knowledge. Consult pictures, get input from others, and consider the sensory aspects of events. Use the five senses to describe events and make them more vivid and engaging.

Being vulnerable and honest is essential in writing a book about your life. Don’t portray yourself as infallible. People relate to human experiences and want to see your failures, setbacks, and mistakes. Share how you overcame these challenges and provide inspiration to your readers.

Get Permission. Since you’re writing a true story, consider legal issues. For professional guidance, Book Publishing Services can help navigate these complexities. and seek permission to use people’s real names in your book. Respect their requests if they don’t want to be included, even if it means editing out specific memories. Changing the names of places or businesses is also advisable to avoid legal complications.

Your story doesn’t have to have a fairy tale ending, but it should end with reflection and a message for your readers. Share the lessons you’ve learned and the reasons behind writing your book. Tie everything together and consider what your readers want to take away from your life story.

Remember, Writing Your Life Story is a personal journey; these tips can help you.

Theme of Writing Why It Matters How to Approach It
Purpose of Writing To share unique experiences and personal growth. Reflect on your motivations and the impact you wish to make.
Therapeutic Benefits Writing as a form of healing and self-discovery. Embrace the emotional journey and use writing as a tool for introspection.
Choosing the Format Deciding between non-fiction, autobiography, or a fictionalized version. Consider the audience and the level of personal honesty you are comfortable with.
Structuring Your Story Organizing life events in a coherent narrative. Create a timeline of significant events and identify themes that connect them.
Writing Process Balancing truthfulness with creative storytelling. Research your life, consult diaries, photos, and conduct interviews for a comprehensive view.
Character Development Portraying yourself and others realistically. Show vulnerabilities and growth, and seek permission if using real names.
Concluding Your Story Ending with a message or reflection that resonates. Share lessons learned and provide closure, both for yourself and your readers.

Writing your life story is a transformative journey that allows you to reflect on your experiences, share your wisdom, and connect with others. You can boldly set out on this literary journey and write a book that will have an impact by following the instructions provided in this article.

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How to Write About Your Own Life

Last Updated: April 29, 2024 Approved

This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA . Stephanie Wong Ken is a writer based in Canada. Stephanie's writing has appeared in Joyland, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, Cosmonaut's Avenue, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Fiction and Creative Writing from Portland State University. There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 80% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 165,332 times.

People choose to write about their lives for a variety of reasons, including a desire to leave a memoir for their children and future generations, to create a record for themselves so they can be reminded of their youthful adventures when they're old and forgetful, and to offer something of value to the rest of the world. Writing a memoir is a very personal experience, but if you're willing to share your life story, it can be incredibly rewarding.

Preparing to Write

Step 1 Understand the memoir genre.

  • Most memoirists struggle to begin their life story and are not sure where to start. Depending on your life story, you may reach out to other family members for details on a childhood memory or event. But it’s important that you also focus on your personal experiences and your recollection of a childhood memory or moment, even if it may be flawed. Often, the best memoirs are about the process of remembering an event, or are about processing a moment in the past that felt important.

Step 2 Read examples of memoir.

  • Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov is a highly regarded fiction writer, but one of his most celebrated works is his memoir of his childhood in Russia. The book is a good example of using literary prose and masterful storytelling to share a personal history.
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Didion’s memoir focuses on the sudden death of her husband and the death of her adult daughter a few months later. This is a great example of using memory to inform the present, which for Didion, is colored by extreme grief and a sense of mortality.
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman. This is a graphic novel that uses animals to tell Spiegelman’s father memories of being imprisoned in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. Spiegelman’s use of animals in fact makes the memoir feel that much more universal and relatable.
  • The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. Kingston’s memoir of growing up as a Chinese immigrant in California combines myth, legend, and memory. Another good example of using different writing styles or approaches to write about your own life.

Step 3 Analyze the examples.

  • Why did the author choose to highlight certain events in their life in the memoir? Consider why the memoirist chose a certain section of their childhood or a specific life event as the focus of the book. For example, Didion’s book The Year of Magical Thinking focuses on the recent deaths of her husband and her daughter, while Nabokov’s Speak, Memory focuses on his childhood in Russia. One event is in the recent past while one event is in the very distant past. Yet both events have a very strong, and possibly traumatic, effect on the writers.
  • What were the narrator’s desires in the memoir? What was motivating the narrator to share this particular story with the reader? Often, memoirs can be cathartic for the writer. Perhaps the writer was trying to process a year of grieving and loss, as Didion does in The Year of Magical Thinking , or perhaps the writer was trying to describe a childhood in a concentration camp, as Spiegelman does in his memoir Maus . Consider the motivations of the writer for putting down their story and presenting it to readers.
  • How did the memoir keep the reader engaged and interested in the story? The best memoirs are honest and unflinching, with details or admissions that the writer may be afraid to make. The writer may write in a way that feels truthful, full of moments that may not make the writer look good or conflicted. But readers often respond to vulnerability in a memoir, and a writer who is not afraid to describe their failures along with their successes.
  • Were you satisfied with the ending of the memoir? Why or why not? Unlike an autobiography, a memoir does not need to have a linear beginning, middle, and end. Most memoirs end without any firm conclusions or end of life moments. Instead, memoirs may end with thoughts on a running theme throughout the book, or with reflections on the pivotal event or moment in the writer’s life.

Structuring Your Story

Step 1 Identify your narrator’s desire line.

  • Try to sum up what your narrator wants in one sentence. For example: I wanted to understand my mother’s decision to move our family to America. Or, I wanted to become healthier after a brief brush with death. Or, I wanted to explore my experiences as an air force pilot in World War II.
  • Be specific in your desire line and avoid vague statements. Your desire line may change as you write your memoir. But its good to have a clear desire in mind before you start writing.

Step 2 Determine the key actions and obstacles in your story.

  • Try to write your actions and obstacles in short sentences: To get my desire line, I did this action. But then an obstacle got in my way. So, I did this action to overcome this obstacle.
  • For example: To understand why my mother moved my family to the United States, I tried to track down my mother’s family in Poland. But then I couldn’t locate my mother’s family due to poor records and missing relatives. So I went on a trip to Poland to better understand my mother and her family.

Step 3 Outline the inciting incident and the ending incident.

  • The inciting incident is the pivotal moment in your story, where you realized your desire line. It could be a seemingly small moment, such as a brief fight with your mother, that becomes a major moment or inciting incident in your story. For example, your brief fight with your mother could be the last time you speak to her before she passes away and leaves you letters about her life in Poland. Think of the ah ha moment in your story when you realized what you wanted in your life, or where you realized you were wrong about your assumptions about a specific moment or event.
  • The ending incident is the moment when you achieve your desire line or want. It will also help you develop an ending for your book. It could be when you discover your mother’s reason for leaving her homeland, for example.

Step 4 Create a plot outline.

  • A story goal: The plot of any story is a sequence of events that revolve around an attempt to solve a problem or attain a goal. The story goal is what your narrator wants to achieve or the problem she wants to resolve, or her desire line.
  • The consequence(s): Ask yourself, What disaster will happen if the goal is not achieved? What is my protagonist afraid will happen if she doesn’t achieve the goal or solve the problem? The consequence is the negative situation or event that will result if the goal is not achieved. The combination of goal and consequence creates the main dramatic tension in your plot. It’s what makes the plot meaningful.
  • The requirements: These are what must be accomplished to achieve the goal. Think of it as a checklist of one or more events. As the requirements are met in the course of the novel, the reader will feel the narrator is getting closer to attaining the goal. Requirements create a sense of anticipation in the reader’s mind, as he looks forward to the narrator’s success.

Step 5 Conduct basic research.

  • You can conduct online research and use libraries, archives and record offices, newspapers, and microfilm. [7] X Research source
  • You may also interview “witnesses to events”. This means individuals who can share first person accounts of an event. You will then need to follow up on leads, interview people, transcribe interviews, and read a lot of material. [8] X Research source

Writing the Story

Step 1 Make a writing schedule.

  • Try to organize your schedule around word count or page count. So, if you normally write about 750 words an hour, factor this in on your schedule. Or if you feel you may actually write two pages an hour, use this as an estimate in your schedule.
  • Determine how long it will take you on average to compose a set number of words, or number of pages, per a day. If you are working towards a final word count goal, like 50,000 words or 200 pages, focus on how many hours per a week it will take you to reach this goal. [10] X Research source

Step 2 Write a rough first draft.

  • Use your plot outline to get a general sense of where your writing might be heading. But let yourself explore scenes in your rough draft. Don’t worry about writing perfect sentences or scenes. Instead, use your memory to create moments that feel true to you.

Step 3 Avoid the passive voice.

  • Use your grammar check (or an app like Hemingway app [12] X Research source ) to count the number of passive sentences in your manuscript. Aim for 2-4% maximum.

Step 4 Stick to informal language, unless it’s absolutely necessary to use formal terms.

  • It may help to identify the reading level of the ideal reader of your book. You can determine the reading level based on the grade level of your ideal reader. If you account for ESL readers, you should aim for a grade 6 or 7 reading level. If you are writing for a higher education audience, you may write at a grade 8 or 9 level. You can use the Hemingway app to determine the reading level of your draft, or other online reading level tools. [13] X Research source

Step 5 Show, don't tell.

  • Don't try to impress your listeners or put on a "reading voice". Just read a natural, slow way. Ask for a reaction from your listeners after you finish reading. Note if there were sections that felt confusing or unclear to your listeners.

Judy Blume

Make sure your work is easy to comprehend. "Read your work aloud! This is the best advice I can give. When you read aloud you find out how much can be cut, how much is unnecessary. You hear how the story flows. And nothing teaches you as much about writing dialogue as listening to it."

Step 7 Revise the manuscript.

  • Don't be afraid to cut at least 20% of the material. You can likely get rid of certain sections that go on for a bit too long and cause the reader to tune out. Don't be shy about cutting chapter sections or pages that may be deadweight.
  • Note if each scene in your book uses the power of the senses. Are you engaging at least one of the reader's senses in each scene? The power of enhancement through the senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing) is a trick both nonfiction and fiction writers can use to keep the reader interested.
  • Check the timeline of the book. Did you follow your desire line all the way through to the end of your book? Does the ending of your book leave the reader with a sense of closure or achievement?
  • The sentence level. Check for the transitions between paragraphs, are they smooth or jumpy? Look for any overused adverbs or terms and replace them so the sentences don't start to feel redundant.

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About This Article

Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA

To write a captivating story about your own life, read autobiographies and memoirs to help you understand how to structure your own story. When you’re ready to start writing, think about the major goals and motivations that define your life story, such as your desire to connect with your family or your goal of becoming a great writer. From there, consider some of the key events of your life and some of the obstacles you’ve faced. You can use these building blocks to start outlining your plot. Scroll down for more tips from our Writing co-author, including how to draft and polish up your manuscript! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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10 Simple Plot Exercises You Need to Do BEFORE You Write Your Novel!

Writing a Novel Inspired by Your Life? The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Autobiographical Fiction

in Writing on 12/09/17

Are you writing autobiographical fiction?

Recently I heard back from a literary agent who had requested my full manuscript: an upper middle grade contemporary that I wrote after reading some of my adolescent diaries.  Here’s part of what the agent said:  

I was seriously getting flashbacks to my first relationships–dating in eighth/ninth grade was SO AWKWARD! You absolutely nail that in this story. I like the set-up a lot in terms of the characters, dynamics, and the unfolding dilemma. However, I’m afraid it began to feel a little too mired in the reality of eighth grade (the back-and-forth wondering, highs and lows of the day) and thus a little slow pacing-wise.  

When I read the email to my husband, he said, “so she didn’t like it because it was too realistic ?” 

Yes, this is one of the problems with writing autobiographical fiction.   Sometimes it’s hard to decide what “real stuff” you should leave out.  

My manuscript isn’t exactly autobiographical, but it was certainly influenced by my actual adolescent thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  There’s even one line in the novel that I lifted verbatim from my ninth grade diary because it was too perfect not to use (or so I thought).  

What’s the difference between writing autobiographical fiction and writing a novel “inspired by” your life?

how to write a book about your life

So how would I classify my manuscript?  Probably on the end of “inspired by.”  The main character is an eighth grade girl who loves math and writes poetry… pretty similar to myself as a teenager.  The relationship she has with one of the boy characters was also heavily inspired by one of my first dating experiences.  But the actual events of the novel are made-up.  

Still, it’s been scary to send this manuscript into the world. When an agent rejects the book it’s hard not to feel like it’s  my experiences and feelings that are being rejected.  

Are you writing a novel inspired by your life? The Do's and Don'ts of Writing Autobiographical Fiction!

Writing autobiographical fiction:  Do’s and Don’ts

When I first started writing the novel that was loosely based on my own diaries, I was embarrassed to tell people where the idea had come from.  I was afraid they’d think I was vain or not being creative.  But the truth is, you can write about anything — your life or otherwise — as long as you do it well.  

Using our own experiences can be a great jumping-off point for a novel… as long as we concentrate on telling a great story instead of sticking too closely to what actually happened.

So if you’re writing autobiographical fiction, or a novel inspired by your life, how do you do it well?  Here are a few suggestions…

DO consider whether the story you want to write is going to be interesting to people other than you , your friends, and your immediate family.  If the answer is no, you could still write the book (maybe you just need to get it out of your system!), but you may not want to query agents with it.  Give it to your family and friends instead.    

DON’T   worry about sticking to what actually happened.  If you’re choosing to write fiction , you can (and should!) make changes to real characters and events.  Take the real life event as a starting point then run with it into the fictional realm.  Brainstorm how you can add, embellish, and change to make a truly compelling novel.  Your life should be the inspiration, not the blueprint.  You can decide later whether what you’ve written is autobiographical fiction, semi-autobiographical, or simply “inspired by” real events.      

DO consider writing in third person. That can help give you enough distance to fictionalize real events. 

DON’T write your novel as a series of diary entries unless you really, really, REALLY think it works best that way. Often we come across old journals and think, “this would make a great story!” But that doesn’t mean we need to stick to the diary entry format. In fact, I’ve written another post called 5 Challenges to Writing a Diary Novel that explains why the diary entry format is extremely difficult to do well. 

DO consider if you’d rather write a memoir.  If you find yourself not wanting to fictionalize your story, maybe you should be writing nonfiction instead.  

DO write what you feel compelled to write.  For a long time I resisted writing fiction inspired by my own experiences (even though I wanted to) because I thought that wouldn’t be “creative” enough.  On the other hand, some people take too much to heart the “write what you know” adage and think they can only write about their own experiences.  In the end, you should write what you want to write.  Because writing what you’re passionate about is going to make the best story.  

DO watch your word count.  When we’re writing autobiographical fiction, it’s easy to include things that seem important to you but are not actually important to the story.  An autobiographical novel with an excessive word count is a major red flag to agents and editors — makes it seem like you don’t know how to edit yourself.  Check out Writer’s Digest’s guide to word count here .    

DON’T get defensive and DO   be open to constructive criticism.  It can be hard to hear criticism about your writing no matter what, but it’s even harder when the story is inspired by your life and the main character bears a strong resemblance to you.  When someone says, “this part didn’t seem realistic” or “I didn’t understand the character’s motivation” it can be hard not to get defensive.  Keep in mind that “but it really did happen” isn’t enough justification for including something in your novel when it isn’t working in the context of the story.  Try to hear the criticism as a way to improve your story and not as a judgement on your actual experiences.  

DO consider how people will react to your story.  Libel in fiction is very rare.  Writers don’t often get sued, and when they do, they usually win.  (First Amendment rights!)  So I wouldn’t worry so much about the legal issues (although you can read here about libel in fiction and defamation and invasion of privacy ).  Even though you’re probably not going to get sued, the things you write could still upset people and damage important relationships.  If you’re writing a story with characters that are loosely based on people you know, it may be worth thinking about how they will feel about what you’re writing, and if you’re okay with their reaction.  You may want to fictionalize their characters more, or talk to them about what you’ve written before it’s published.  

As for my own manuscript, I’m going to really think hard about what’s necessary to the story and what’s not, in order to speed up the pacing and heighten the drama.  In doing this, I’m going to get further from my own experiences and deeper into the realm of fiction, which is where this story belongs.  

Are you writing autobiographical fiction or a novel inspired by your life?  How’s it going?  What challenges are you facing?  

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May 31, 2018 at 7:47 pm

Hello. I have written an autobiographical novel and wonder if there are agents who specifically represent that genre?

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May 31, 2018 at 9:02 pm

That is a great question, but I don’t have the answer. If you look into it and find out any information, please share!

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April 20, 2020 at 6:52 am

I’m a doctor aged 60 years. I often relive my medical college days. Good and bad memories kept haunting. I had eloped with my classmate of the college and got married. I’m sure I can write well about our love story in the same book. Since long time, I daydreamed to write my real experiences if those six long years. Of late the desire is burning and getting ready to start! First obstacle I thought that I’m not good at my writing skills, but, I’m improving on it. Second worry is to use the actual names of my classmates and professors or not. I can’t take permission if each one of them. Third thing is my laziness to start though the desire of publishing my book is sure to happen! Kindly give your advice and suggestions to realise my dream one day. Expecting your reply….

April 20, 2020 at 1:54 pm

Thanks for the comment! It sounds like you’ve got a story in you that’s begging to be written. As for your second worry, are you planning to write a memoir, or fictionalize your story? In general you don’t need people’s permission to write about them, but I understand not wanting to upset friends and family if you write about them in a way they might not like. My advice is to write your story and use the real names if that’s what makes sense to you. If and when you get an agent, your agent (who will know all about the legal aspects of publishing) can help you decide whether or not to change names, get permission, etc. But for now, don’t let that worry stop you. Just write! It may help to take a class or join a writing group to motivate you to push through the laziness! 🙂 Good luck!

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June 1, 2020 at 9:33 pm

To write a powerful motivational fiction story, you need to have the heart, experience, and generosity to share the things that you think can motivate other people. Read my blog: Tips on Writing a Powerful Motivational Fiction Story Hope this will help, Thank you!

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August 23, 2020 at 2:37 pm

Thanks for your article. I have had an interesting life, unique experiences, and others agree with this assessment. I am writing an autobiography, in a novel form (third person), and am tempted to fictionalize it somewhat to make it even more interesting and powerful, to have a good place to end. Thoughts?

August 24, 2020 at 8:33 pm

Hard to say without knowing the details! But unless you’re famous it may be hard to sell your autobiography. A page-turning novel about a character with a fascinating life, on the other hand…

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September 8, 2020 at 7:22 pm

This is exactly what I needed today and is quite helpful. I am nearing completion of the first draft of just such a story, dealing with my emotional problems as a nine-year-old boy. It has been the most intense writing project I have ever worked on, and I didn’t even know how to classify it. There is a considerable amount of sometimes painful truth involed, but within the framework of fiction, it is ambiguous. The fictional narrator freely admits in the telling the tale, that having suffered from delusional schizophrenia, in fact, the bulk of it might be all in his mind. It concludes with a psychotic break, but redemptive healing on the other side. My biggest concern is that where a tale of a nine-year-old child in 1966 would fit in as a readership level. It’s too intense for actual children, but will adults want to read that? I’m not sure it is publishable no matter how well written I can make it.

September 9, 2020 at 1:56 pm

I’m so glad you found it helpful! Is the narrator a child, or is the narrator an adult telling the story of when he was a child? If it’s the latter, there are MANY adult novels and memoirs that do this. (For example, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, Education by Tara Westover, or The Goldfinch by Donna Tart). If it’s the former, it’s a little harder to do, but still totally possible to be an adult novel with a child narrator. (For example Room by Emma Donoghue, Closed Doors by Lisa McDonnell, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd).

Since it sounds like your book deals with mental illness, I recommend reading The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar by Terri Cheney. It’s very much an adult book but it’s about her childhood struggles with bipolar disorder.

Good luck with your writing!

September 10, 2020 at 12:20 am

I just ordered the book. Thank you for the recommendation. It is told first person past tense from my adult perspective, and as magical realism. In a nutshell, two best friends with spiraling emotional problems that live two blocks and 53 years away from each other and the parallels between their childhoods during the summers of 1914 and 1966. Everything in both timelines is based on real places, events, people, and memories. It was inspired by my propensity for inventing playmates as I had problems dealing with real ones. Interestingly, in researching a 1914 paper from the day of a major story event, there was a column called ‘Observations,’ which was a weird amalgamation of single paragraph news stories with clever quips next to ‘Body Found by Rail Station.” The one that caught my eye was “The older a man gets, the better he can remember things that never happened.” Pretty much where I am now. This gives me much more hope of finding a publisher. Thanks again.

September 10, 2020 at 1:31 pm

“The older a man gets, the better he can remember things that never happened.” Ha! I love it!

January 20, 2021 at 11:15 pm

Just a follow-up, I decided to self-publish (The Childgrove, on Amazon,) and it’s doing very well. I’m editing the one and only sequel, which involved taking a hard and realistic look at childhood trauma taken from many interviews with former and current foster and adopted children. I have learned so much from them and am humbled by their incredible spirits. I’m starting training soon to adopt one of them. This has been the deepest and most personal thing I have ever done, and I hope it opens some eyes. Thanks again for the help.

January 21, 2021 at 1:06 pm

Congratulations! I will have to look into this as the subject of adoption and foster care is of interest to me. One of my best friends is a foster parent, and I’ve thought about it as something I might want to do some day as well (though I know it’s not an easy thing to undertake!) And what an incredible person you are to open up your home to a child who needs one! Best wishes!

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October 20, 2020 at 9:04 pm

Was looking for some takes regarding this topic and I found your article quite informative. It has given me a fresh perspective on the topic tackled. Thanks!

Telling stories and sharing your knowledge with the world is one of the most amazing feelings there is.

I hope you can take the time to read my post as well Effective Steps on Writing Your First Novel .

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November 30, 2020 at 8:28 am

Hi Eva, Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I started writing one non-fictional book, that is motivational and describing the steps I took to change my life. I wonder if it is wrong to cite the other motivational authors whose formulas I used to improve my life. I mean, I want to express my gratitude through the book to these people, and to direct my readers to study their books in depth, where everything is explained in details, but would it be weird? How would readers react, in your opinion. Secondly, I want to write fictional book about my future self and where I see myself in life (which would be actually published as a first one, and at the end of it the reader would be redirected to the “book, I am already writing – non-fictional one), kind of motivational and inspirational. What kind of genre would this book belong to? Semi-autobiography or..? Thank you in advance for you advice. Have a wonderful day.

November 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm

I think it’s totally fine to reference other authors/books in your motivational, non-fiction book. You could even provide a list in the appendix of all the books that you think your readers might want to read. As for your fiction book about your future self — interesting idea! I’m not sure what the genre would be, but I say don’t worry so much about the genre right now. Just write it and decide the genre later. Happy writing!

November 30, 2020 at 2:02 pm

Thank you for your advice regarding non-fiction book, it’s such a great idea! I am glad you liked the idea for my fiction book! 🙂 Lots of success, and thank you a lot for your response!

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January 13, 2021 at 9:48 am

To compose a ground-breaking persuasive fiction story, you need to have the heart, experience, and liberality to share the things that you think can inspire others.

Killing at Red Horse, This book is also amazing story to read available on amazon:

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January 26, 2021 at 7:04 pm

Thank you for sharing your experience/wisdom. Let me explain the issue that I’m facing. I initially started writing a memoir (which I had wanted to for many years) but soon realized the complexities of writing a fact-based script. So, I ended up injecting fiction for multiple reasons, but also to bring closure to certain items that I don’t know how they will end. I had an editor review the manuscript, and he believes that a novel would require a totally different framework – currently, it is written as a memoir (first person POV, etc.). I’ve gone thru it a million times and I just cannot seem to figure out how to apply a “narrative arc, a clash, a climax…” which I am told are essential for any fiction writing.

Based on the above, I’m sure you’ve guessed that I am not a writer (but the passion is there :)) and hence struggling with the basics. My question is… can I call it a “Fiction written as a memoir?” Any implications I should think about? I’m now convinced that there’s no way to rewrite it as a novel (at least not by me).

Thanks again for your help. Ps… the following is from my blurb which may help to understand the background (from my website)…

Based on some real events, REGRETS is fiction disguised as a memoir that examines the stresses that family, religious, and cultural expectations put on our relationships and ourselves and how the key to happiness is often a matter of LETTING GO.

January 27, 2021 at 12:57 pm

A couple of thoughts.. What do you want to do with this manuscript? If your plan is to self-publish (and you don’t care about making much money), you can do whatever you want and call it whatever you want! If you’re hoping to go a more traditional publishing route, however, I would recommend trying for a narrative arc. After all, many memoirs have a story arc even though they’re not fiction.

I know it can be really hard to fictionalize a real-life story, especially when it’s something that happened to you. Maybe try imagining the story as a movie. What would the climax of the movie be? What are the most important scenes, and what could be cut? Maybe look at all your story scenes then pick and choose the ones that can be used to build tension and lead to some sort of climax. And, since it’s fiction, add in new scenes to flesh out the story arc. Maybe read some memoirs that have strong narrative arcs (Educated, Wild, The Glass Castle, etc.) and see if you can get any inspiration. Also google “story arc in memoir” and read the articles that seem helpful.

Good luck!!

January 27, 2021 at 6:27 pm

Thank you for your guidance. I’ll do some Google searching and also soul-searching 🙂 Thanks for the suggested reads.

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September 9, 2021 at 9:24 pm

Memoir for children is just the same as most children’s storybooks, except that the story is based on real people and events. Check this blog Essential Things to Consider in Writing Memoirs for Children for the list of the important things to remember when writing memoirs for kids.

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September 26, 2021 at 12:24 am

I’m halfway through a novel that I’m now calling a semi auto fiction. I’m writing as the author telling about a fictional romance. So I use my, me, I, etc. I’m now stuck though because in real life I was involved in something that made international/national news, tv shows like Dateline, People magazine, a crime novel was written (not by me), and multiple court trials of professionals. I want to incorporate that story as maybe the highlight but change it up somewhat, configuring it into the fiction of the book’s beginning. Any advice?

September 26, 2021 at 8:39 pm

Wow, this is a very intriguing question. What is your main concern? Is it that the story is already out there in various forms? I wouldn’t be worried about that at all — it’s obviously a good story, and the way you’ve described how you want to write the novel is very interesting. My advice is to write it however you want — however will make the most compelling story. If you already have an agent, discuss this with your agent. If you don’t already have agent, when it comes time to query, I would mention the novel is based on personal experience (as long as you’re comfortable doing that). Good luck!

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September 29, 2021 at 3:27 am

i really want to write a book loosely based on something i went through but i don’t know how to start

September 29, 2021 at 9:28 am

Oh my goodness, isn’t that the big question! I’d recommend brainstorming a list of scenes, conversations, events, characters, etc. that you definitely think should go into your book. You can also brainstorm how you want the story to differ from the actual events: will you maybe combine several people into one character? Will you condense the timeline? Will you increase the tension and stakes to make a more dramatic story? Will you shape the real-life events into more of a traditional 3-Act plot structure?

When you’re bored with brainstorming, start writing, whether you start at the beginning of the story or jump around. Know that the first draft will be messy and need lots of revising. Good luck!!

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October 4, 2021 at 4:31 am

I’m doing an autobiographical fiction for two reasons. 1: I don’t want to hurt my loved ones, or get sued by not-so-loved ones. In order to give my story a “soul”, I’m going to have to share a lot of personal experiences, and details. I’m gonna need this loophole. 2: A creative outlet.

But, I have a question! If I use a Pseudonym, will it make it harder for people to try to sue me?

October 4, 2021 at 10:40 am

Hi Sherry! Because of the first amendment, writers rarely get sued, and when they do, they usually win. After all, a defamation lawsuit can only be brought against something that is being stated as fact. If you’re writing fiction, you are not claiming that anything in your book is fact. Also, if you use a pseudonym, there’s a good chance the not-so-loved-ones may never read your book at all. Anyway, I wouldn’t worry about it at this stage. It’s something you can discuss with your literary agent and editor later down the road. I’d say, just write your book how you want to write it! Give it a soul! Good luck!

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October 28, 2021 at 1:21 pm

I just found this article. Thank you for posting it. I’m struggling with identifying what goes in and what doesn’t, and I realize I’m trying to cover too many themes in one novel: it’s a failed romance story; it’s a coming of age story; it’s a struggle to fit in; it’s a character arc from compliant to defiant. Oh boy. What are some of the good ideas for identifying what my novel should truly be about when I have these many themes and plot lines in one novel?

October 28, 2021 at 9:03 pm

Hmm, that’s a good question. Have you written a complete draft yet? If not, maybe just keep writing and worry about what needs to be cut later. Always easier to cut than add, in my opinion. Are there any parts of the story that you might be including simply because they actually happened and feel important you, but they aren’t truly serving the story? I would try writing a one-page, single-spaced synopsis of your entire book. Hard, I know, but it will force you to decide what are the most important aspects of your story and what could potentially be cut or condensed. Good luck!

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January 9, 2022 at 7:53 pm

I am 29 and have been itching to write a boom at least closely based upon my childhood and life through my 20s. It would have to be a lengthy book or trilogy at the most. I’m not willing to blast my family with accurate names, but the general geographic area is necessary for the background of my entire life.

I have a lot of sensitive topics that would be brought up (mental illness, sexual assault, suicidal ideations) that definitely stay more older YA to adult ages. I’m not afraid of telling these stories, but the mental state behind the main character (me) could be very disconcerting to folks who don’t grasp mental illness may want to light a fire under me for bringing up so many sensitive topics.

Would it even be logical to bother writing and publishing a work that would nearly be as dark and depressing as A Child Called “It”?

January 10, 2022 at 7:56 pm

Thanks for your questions! Are you thinking this would be a memoir or fiction inspired by your life? That’s one of the first things to decide.

Based on what you’ve described it might make sense for your book to be an adult novel (or memoir) with a young protagonist. Especially if it is told by an adult narrator who is “looking back.” On the other hand, there are a lot of darker YA books out there these days. Off the top of my head, I recently read Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow, about a teenage girl who self-harms, and it was quite dark and graphic in places. Anyway, you can always write first and decide what genre it is later. But I wouldn’t shy away from going to dark places if that’s what you feel compelled to write.

I’m also reminded of two memoirs by Terri Cheney: one is called The Dark Side of Innocence: Growing Up Bipolar, and the other, called Manic, is about her adulthood struggling with bipolar. So it can definitely be done: writing multiple books about your own experiences with mental illness. Also, people write about mental illness, sexual assault, and suicide all the time. For those who don’t want to read about such topics, they can choose not to read your book!

Good luck! I hope the writing process is healing. My advice? Write your book, and once it’s finished you can start thinking about how to get it published, if that’s your goal. Take care!

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June 22, 2022 at 2:17 am

I don’t feel like I’ve lived a very interesting life (then again I’m just barely entering adulthood, I have time), I’ve always felt very mundane and yet the things that I’ve gone through emotionally throughout my childhood to now I’ve always felt like turning into a novel. But I’m worried it’ll seem childish, like I haven’t had enough distance from these events, I’ve only gotten a little older, and that I won’t have the perspective needed to tell it from afar, that the events are too random to formulate an actual story? If that makes sense? Lots of questions. But I’d like to write a story very loosely inspired by events that happened to me concerning family and personal mental health issues, the problem is how to let myself fictionalize these events and make them happen to a fictional character, and not me. And how can I write with enough distance from these events? I really appreciate this article, it was very helpful and I’d appreciate any feedback or advice!

June 24, 2022 at 9:22 am

These are all really good questions! At the end of the day, you should write what you want to write, and if you’re feeling called to write a story loosely inspired by events from your childhood, you absolutely should.

A lot of people find writing therapeutic, so it’s possible that in the writing of this story you might work through some things and start to gain perspective.

You say that the real events are too random to formulate a story, so I think it’s great that you plan to fictionalize. I’d suggest using the things that actually happened as inspiration, but don’t feel you need to stick too closely to them. Change them, add more plot points, add more drama and tension — create a story with rising action and a climax and a satisfying resolution (even if not all the ends are neatly tied). Since you’re fictionalizing, you don’t have to write what actually happened; just use the real events as a jumping-off point. Does that make sense?

As far as whether or not you have enough distance… who knows? Maybe not. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to write what you feel compelled to write; even if you never end up showing it to anyone else, it will help you learn something about yourself and help you grow as a writer. Hope this helps!

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Write Your Journey

Everybody has a story that matters. Writing your life story creates a legacy for your loved ones and for future generations. It is also a way of examining your life a little deeper. Writing your story will help you recognise that you have lived a meaningful life and made a positive contribution to the world.  

A well-lived life includes a wealth of stories, experiences and memories. Writing these down can bring enjoyment, satisfaction, healing and a sense of closure. Writing about your life will allow you to see the uniqueness in the life that you have lived and it will make you aware of the life lessons and universal truths contained within your unique life story that are worth sharing with others. But where do you start?

I’ve just finished delivering a series of six workshops teaching rural community members how to write their life stories. It’s by far one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. The workshops were originally offered to senior citizens, but I had plenty of participants younger than me. Clearly many people are longing to write their life stories but where to start is often the problem. 

In this post I share some of the main points that came up in these workshops to make it easier for you to start writing your life story. 

how to write a book about your life

Firstly, what is the difference between memoir and autobiography?

When I told a friend that I am writing a memoir he looked at me like I am nuts. I could literally see what he was thinking: you are not famous. Who do you think would be interested in your memoir? 

Famous people write autobiographies, I told him. Ordinary people write memoir and it happens to be one of the most popular genres at the moment. An autobiography chronicles a person’s entire life story, from childhood to the present. A memoir, by contrast, is about a life event that has profoundly changed the writer and carries a universal lesson.

As memoir coach Marion Roach Smith puts it, it’s not what you did in your life but what you did with it that makes for an interesting story.

The best memoirs are often stories about adversity overcome and how that has made the writer grow and find deeper meaning in life that has universality.

A good memoir is written as narrative non-fiction, which simply means it’s a true story (non-fiction) written like a novel adhering to narrative conventions of plot, clear story line that builds to a climax and follows a story arc. The people you write about in a memoir become characters and are developed like characters in a novel would be, ie. through narrative (description) intermixed with scenes (action and dialogue anchored in place and time). 

In a memoir, unlike in an autobiography, you include only the stories and experiences that are directly relevant to the book’s message and central question.

Writing your life story doesn’t have to be this complicated, but do try to write it with the reader in mind. Tell your story in a way that will allow your reader to emotionally relate to your story and to identify with you, the protagonist.

Start writing your life story by breaking it down into stepping stones & turning points

Writing your entire life story can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.

Don’t sit down to write your whole life story in one go, start to finish. That will feel overwhelming and will most definitely put you off. Break it up into small anecdotes and individual memories, then sit down to write that anecdote or that particular memory as an event.

You don’t have to remember every event in your life, that would also be impossible. Focus on the key events that brought you to where you are today. Start writing your story by remembering the life-changing moments that have shaped you. 

Identify the key events that changed your life for better or for worse. These can be positive events such as getting married, the birth of your children, graduating from university, creating a business. And they will also include big and tragic events such as the loss of a loved one, migrating to a new country or surviving an illness. They can also be smaller but no less tragic events, ie. a high school teacher telling you that you are not clever enough to go to university.

Simply begin with a brainstorm, writing down 10-15 stepping stone moments.

To start writing your life story, focus on the turning points in your life

As well as considering the life-changing moments in your life, you need to think about the major turning points in your life. The thresholds in our personal narratives are the entry points into your story. They are the major dramatic beats that signal transformation, radical change and growth. 

The most fascinating stories are often about the ways we have overcome life’s obstacles and how we have transformed and created new meaning for ourselves.

What obstacles have you overcome in your life and what did you learn from that experience? These lessons may just be the core of your story that everything else moves around.

Making a list of the major turning points in your life will help you find the structure of your story.

Adding detail and finding your theme

Write the stepping stone and turning point events out like a scene in a book. Add dialogue, description, vivid detail and conflict. Bring your writing alive with sensory detail. What could you see, touch, hear, touch, test and smell? Engage your reader emotionally. What was the dominant emotion at a particular life event?

As you keep writing and collecting memories and key life events, you will start to see themes, patterns and questions.

Storytelling is all about asking a question. As the playwright Eugene Ionesco said: “It’s not the answer that enlightens, but the question.”

Most stories revolve around a single question that represents the core of the story. Will Romeo and Juliet end up together? Will Harry Potter defeat Voldemort? Will Frodo destroy the Ring?

Perhaps the underlying theme of your life story is about finding happiness despite the odds and your question is, what does it take to create a happy life?

how to write your life story

Remembering the details

All of our writing comes from memory. 

Memories are, by definition, subjective. Every time we recall a memory, we recreate it, we embellish it or expand on it. In other words, we are being creative.

Let me give you permission right now to be creative with your life story! Don’t worry, nobody expects you to remember exactly what you said as a 12-year old or even as a 45-year old.

Here are a few ideas to help you remember as many details as you can for writing your life story:


Photographs are great memory triggers. You can use them as writing prompts and to recall forgotten details.

Pick a photo from a meaningful event and write about the people in the photo and the occasion it was taken. What feelings do you associate with the photo? Explore the memories that come up.


Old letters will help you find your voice.

Over time the way we speak changes. See if you can dig up old letters (or emails) or even diaries and discover the ways you spoke and thought in the past and the stories they contain.


What were the news headlines on your wedding day or your first day of school?

You can access old news content online (get a younger member of the family to help you if necessary), or maybe you can dig up clippings of old newspaper articles from an important event in your life that you have kept? This will provide historical context and also help you to unlock specific memories and feelings.

My favorite writing prompts to help you start writing your life story

To dig up your unique memory of a specific event ie. your first kiss, your wedding day, your first trip overseas we need to tap into our ‘episodic memory’, which is stored in our long-term memory.

A great way to do that is to use writing prompts and to write to a timer. 10 minutes is a good length.

I am a big fan of timed writing prompts because freewriting in this way allows you to bypass the inner critic who always sits on our shoulder telling us that our writing is no good.

Here are 4 quick and simple writing prompts to help you write your life story :


This prompt helps to unlock the stories you really want to tell and it jogs your memory to recall forgotten details and to find the stepping stones and turning points in your life.

The prompt is inspired by Joe Brainard’s autobiography, I remember (1970), depicting his childhood in the 1940s and ’50s in Oklahoma as well as his life in the ‘60s and ’70s in New York City. The book, which became a literary and artistic cult classic, is written in sentence form, all of which start with the words “I remember.” Sounds almost too simple, but it’s a great read!

Set the timer on your phone for 10 minutes and write without stopping to think or edit. 

Brainstorm as many memories as you can, starting each new sentence with the words “I remember…”


This prompt invites us to fill in the blanks. In Natalie Goldberg’s words, it makes us explore the underbelly of the mind. Let’s try to get to what lurks in the depth of our memories, what remains hidden, what we fail to notice or what we actively banish from our minds.

You’ve got infinite possibility with this prompt. Your hidden memories can be positive or negative. It’s whatever comes up. You may end up writing for 10 minutes about the things you don’t remember about the primary school you attended, the things you wish you could remember; or you may write a list related to things you CAN remember — the little details within your memories that you’ve forgotten. Be specific and give sensory detail.


Make a list of ten random memories of when you did something for the first time.

My first day in a foreign country, my first day of marriage, my first kiss, my first day at work, my first day as a parent, my first bicycle, the first time I ate sushi, the first time I went to the cinema on my own…simply brainstorm, write quickly and capture whatever comes up.

Then choose one FIRST and write for 10 minutes. Be specific. Give details. Was the bicycle you rode to school red or blue? Did it rain on your first day at work? What did you eat for lunch on your first day as a mother? You never know what will happen when you allow the pen to lead the way.


What will engage a reader in a novel are the moral values that drive a character. A strong storyline is about conflict and challenge and how a character reacts when core values are being tested. The same goes for writing your life story.

Write “I believe …” at the top of a blank page and then find 5-10 different ways to complete it. Write without stopping to think, without giving the logical mind a chance. Stay with your intuitive mind.

Then choose one of your “I believe” statements and write it at the top of a fresh page. Explore your “I believe” statement from every possible angle.

Would you consider writing down your life story? Are you already doing so? Let me know in the comments and, please, share this with anyone you think will enjoy writing their own life story.

Hi I am Kerstin

Kerstin Pilz

I am a published author and former academic with 20 years university teaching experience. I discovered the healing power of writing when I went through the darkness of grief. Writing was my lifesaver. Read more

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33 Powerful Books That Might Change Your Life

I’ve read over 1,000 nonfiction books in my life, and these 33 are the most powerful of them all. I can honestly say they changed my life, who’s to say they won’t change yours too?

Don’t just take my word for it though. Read on for my summary of all 33 books and see for yourself how your next read might just change your life.

1. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits has three big takeaways. The first is that small lifestyle changes compound over a long period of time. So you don’t want to try to be a completely different person tomorrow, you want to be 1% better 100 days in a row.

The second big takeaway can be summarized with the line, “We don’t rise to the level of our goals , but we fall to the level of our systems.” The idea here is that it’s not about ambition or effort , it’s about creating an environment that makes behavioral change inevitable.

And finally, the third takeaway is that habits don’t stick unless we alter our identities . That means it’s not sufficient to simply change our behavior, but we also have to change how we see ourselves and how we relate to others.

2. The Expectation Effect by David Robson

The Expectation Effect by David Robson

People who believe they’re capable of doing something are far more likely to do it. People who believe they will heal from an injury or illness do so quicker and more consistently. People who expect medication or therapy to work have a greater chance of that medication or therapy working.

Basically, the mind is a really fucking powerful thing and it affects our bodies and relationships in ways that we don’t fully understand. So you might as well adopt mindsets and beliefs that are most likely to help you.

That’s leveraging the expectation effect.

3. The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.

The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

Well, that’s the argument that Kelly McGonigal makes in this important book.

Stress has a bad reputation. We’re told it will kill us, traumatize us, make us miserable and sad and cry into our ice cream cone.

That may be true for some, but whether or not stress is actually bad for us depends on what exactly is stressing us. Is it a meaningful and important challenge that is stressful? Is the stress creating value for you in the world?

After all, stress exists for a reason. It mobilizes us, both physically and mentally. It gets us paying attention, and when directed in a meaningful pursuit, it can help us feel a sense of accomplishment.

So you shouldn’t necessarily avoid stress, you should pick the stress that you’re happy to have.

4. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport

Wrong, says Cal Newport. The research says that we got it backwards. We don’t do great work at things we love, we tend to love things that we become very good at.

So instead of trying to follow your passion all the time, which let’s be honest, is a wishy-washy concept that many people struggle to even define, Newport argues that we should instead be focusing on developing our skills.

Because you can become passionate about anything, you just need to be good at it first.

5. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

The Innovator’s Dilemma is a phenomenon that occurs in business when the biggest and most successful companies miss the most obvious opportunities because they’re so invested in older technologies, they can’t justify moving on.

The perfect example of this is Kodak. Did you know that Kodak actually experimented with digital cameras back in 1975? But they never pursued the technology because they had built up billions of dollars around analog film.

Thirty years later, Kodak went out of business. Why? Digital cameras.

The Innovator’s Dilemma shows up not only in business, but also in life.

Generally, when we miss huge opportunities, it’s not because we weren’t looking for them or weren’t aware of them, it’s because we are benefiting so much from our old tendencies that we let the life-changing opportunity pass us by.

6. Influence by Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D.

Influence by Robert B. Cialdini

Robert Cialdini boils these triggers down into eight categories, and in his seminal book, Influence , explains how they’re often used in sales and marketing, but also by people around us to get what they want from us.

Drawing from examples from religious cults, professors and colleges, teachers, marketing experts and advertisements, this book will change how you see your own decision-making .

It’s a must-read for anyone interested in psychology, but especially, if you’re in sales and marketing.

7. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Ferriss’ big insight is in the nature of how one defines wealth . Instead of becoming wealthy by accumulating expensive possessions, Ferriss defines wealth in terms of freedom and time and the ability to have enriching experiences.

With this new definition, the classic arrangement of working for forty years and then retiring doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

By leveraging technology, automation, and working anywhere in the world, Ferriss describes how you can become part of the new rich or live a wealthy life at a young age on a modest amount of money.

Get rich, bitch.

8. Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke, M.D.

Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke

In her book Dopamine Nation , Anna Lembke makes the argument that modern society is overstimulating us and flooding our brains with more dopamine than we were meant to handle.

The result is a glut of addictive, compulsive overindulgent behaviors across the developed world.

Basically, we’re all getting fat and sassy.

So how do we combat this? Through abstention, intentional challenge, and being more mindful of our environments.

If you feel like your dopamine levels are through the fucking roof, then this book is probably useful.

9. The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

Bringing together influences from existential philosophy , Freudian psychology, and Zen Buddhism, Becker argued that death is life’s ultimate motivator , that what gives us a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives is an attempt to create something that will outlive us when we die.

Becker called these our immortality projects and argued that they were the root of not only everything good in our lives, but also everything evil.

10. The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

The Paradox of Choice tells us that when offered more options, we tend to be less satisfied with whatever we choose.

So if I offer you to choose between two candy bars, you’ll pick your favorite and be satisfied. But if I ask you to choose between ten candy bars, you’ll have more options, but research finds you’ll be less satisfied with your choice.

In a world that is constantly unlocking more options and abundance for us all, this has wide implications from dating to career choices , to hobbies, to even choosing where to live.

Beware of the paradox of choice.

11. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

Poor people see money as something to be spent. They try to find and get as much as possible and then use it up until it’s gone. Rich people, on the other hand, see money as something to invest. Once it’s spent, they look for a good return.

This simple difference in mindset can explain all sorts of behavior—from what kind of car people drive to what kind of clothes they wear, how much they save for retirement, how many credit cards they use.

A small book that can be read in an afternoon, but a simple idea that should be internalized by everyone.

Fun fact: the author is broke.

12. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Spending the next three years in concentration camps, he somehow managed to survive. And while there, he made an observation, both simple and profound, that the prisoners who had a reason to survive the concentration camps, tended to be the ones who did.

He said that he got to the point where he could predict which prisoner would die next based on which ones had stopped having hope for the future.

Frankl summed up his conclusion with Nietzsche’s famous maxim, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”

Viktor’s incredible realization is that while suffering may often be inevitable, as long as we have some higher purpose to grant our suffering meaning, we can not only survive it but grow from it.

13. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Unfortunately, our default approach to most relationships is to speak instead of listen, to try to feel seen instead of trying to see the other person.

Carnegie’s book is a simple yet profound explanation that the way to connect with others is to simply open yourself up to being connected with them, and then shut the fuck up and listen better.

To be honest, I feel like this should be required reading for every high schooler in the world, but fuck, nobody ever asked me.

14. Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

When we align our actions with some higher purpose, we become more motivated and more effective and more resilient to setbacks.

This is particularly important within organizations. Sinek argues that it’s ultimately our “why” that keeps everyone aligned and on the same page when shit goes south.

15. The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

Well, the authors of this incredible book argue yes, and they back it up with a shitload of data.

Unfortunately, it seems in the last fifteen years the public has become more emotionally fragile, and young people in particular are less tolerant of any sort of discomfort or inconvenience that comes their way.

The authors have a number of data-driven explanations for this. The first one is the rise of helicopter parenting—the assumption that parents need to watch their kids and protect them at all costs.

The second one is the philosophy of safety-ism—the belief that anything that can cause pain or suffering is ultimately harmful in the long run and can even be traumatic.

The third explanation is lack of play. The past few generations of kids have been so overloaded with schoolwork and extracurricular activities trying to get into a good college that they haven’t had time to be kids, and it turns out that most mental and emotional development of children happens while they’re playing.

And finally, there’s everybody’s favorite culprit, social media . I shouldn’t have to explain that one.

16. The Revolt of the Public by Martin Gurri

The Revolt of the Public by Martin Gurri

The advent of social media and mobile phones had made performative political activism possible in a way that had never existed previously.

Before, organizing a protest required a ton of resources, a giant network, marketing, and publicity. But today, with the help of a smartphone and a viral post, ad hoc political protests could be started at the drop of a hat.

These new performative protests were markedly different from previous ones. They were unorganized, and while they all advocated for the downfall of the current establishment, they didn’t really propose anything in its place.

Gurri calls this new orientation the periphery versus the center. It’s no longer about right versus left. It’s about establishment versus anti-establishment.

And unfortunately, we’re all caught in the middle.

17. Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.

Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix

They make mistakes , they have their own issues and quirks—these then imprint themselves on our brains as our love map. Basically, the way we unconsciously understand affection and intimacy.

As adults, we unconsciously seek out partners that fit into our love maps, thus recreating the failures and mistakes made by our parents. These failures and mistakes then re-trigger old psychological wounds and make our relationships incredibly emotionally turbulent .

The way out of this mess is to find a partner who is also aware of this process, and you can work together to change both of your behaviors, and essentially correct for the fuckups made by each other’s parents.

In this sense, the power of relationships is that they can literally heal your emotional wounds . This, in a nutshell, is the purpose of romantic love.

18. The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

Nobody spends their money rationally. We’re terrible at assessing risk. Financial security only exists if you have more, and being rich and being wealthy are complete contradictions of each other.

Do any of these things make sense? No? Well, read the book and they fucking will.

These are just a few of the mind-bending ideas that The Psychology of Money will unpretzel for your brain. The book is a fascinating romp through all the fucked up ways our minds mishandle money, both literally and figuratively.

It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to get rich and or die trying.

19. Outlive by Peter Attia, M.D.

Outlive by Peter Attia

Also, it just happens that all four of these chronic illnesses develop very slowly over a long period of time.

Peter Attia makes the argument that these four horsemen are so deadly because our current medical system is not designed to manage or prevent chronic diseases, but rather to treat acute diseases after they’ve already happened.

Outlive is basically a guide to that prevention, and this book will probably be the gift that I give every single person on their 40th birthday for a long, long time.

20. Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert

Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert

Dan Gilbert is a psychologist from Harvard, and in his book he argues that happiness doesn’t function the way we assume it does.

Happiness isn’t something you gain or lose based on external events in your life. Rather, your mind will alter how it perceives external events to maintain a consistent modest level of happiness.

Put simply, everyone is slightly delusional about the past and the future, and this delusion exists to maintain some degree of satisfaction in our lives.

Gilbert calls this the “psychological immune system,” and argues that people who are miserable, it’s because their psychological immune systems are failing due to some sort of dysfunctional belief or extreme negative event.

21. Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke

Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke

Basically, envision your decisions in life as a bunch of bets , little mini experiments designed to see how much you get back for what you invest.

I’ve personally found thinking in terms of probability and making decisions based on expected returns to be one of the most practical and useful skills I’ve ever developed in my life, and not just at the poker table.

22. Mindset by Carol Dweck, Ph.D.

Mindset by Carol Dweck

And people who believe that they can never change, and that they’re just screwed, well, surprise, they don’t change, and they spend their lives feeling screwed.

Dweck called these two dispositions a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.

And guess what, motherfucker? You want to have a growth mindset.

23. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Basically, our mind has two systems: system one and system two.

System one is extremely fast, intuitive, and unconscious. System two is slow, methodical, and highly aware.

System one is great to generate quick responses in complex situations. It’s what we often think of as our gut instinct. System one tends to do well in social or emotional situations or predicting outcomes of highly complex circumstances.

System two is great when you need thoroughness and accuracy. You wouldn’t want to build a rocket or a nuclear plant based on your gut instinct. You build it based on slow, methodical system-two thinking.

Kahneman argues that many of our personal and social problems arise when we misuse our two systems and mistakenly use one instead of the other. Sometimes we try to overanalyze our emotional problems or feel our way through difficult analytical problems.

Being aware of our systems and what they are good for can help us approach life in a more harmonious way.

24. On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche

On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche

The first is meritocratic—the spoils should go to the victor. If you’re smarter, stronger, faster, more clever, more powerful, you deserve the rewards of your effort and ingenuity. Nietzsche called this master morality.

The second belief system is that we should care for the weak, alleviate people’s suffering, help the unfortunate, and give special attention and care to those who need it most. Nietzsche called this slave morality.

Master and slave morality have been in an eternal struggle—both between societies but also within societies—for most of human history. Wars have been fought over it, religions have been founded and destroyed because of it, and the modern-day political left and right are the legacies of the impulses towards master and slave morality within us all.

Each has its benefits to society and each is necessary, but when unchecked by the other, both have the seeds of tyranny and downfall.

25. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

Zen Mind Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

Through a series of bite-sized chapters based on his old lectures, Suzuki takes you step by step through each of the profound realizations that Buddhist thought can lead you to.

For instance, that there’s a separation between the thinking mind and the observing mind. Sure, you have thoughts, but who is it in your mind that is aware that you have thoughts? Or non-dual awareness, the idea that the separation between anything is completely subjective and self-invented. Or the acceptance of the present moment as the only means to alleviate suffering.

If you are one of the many Westerners who is curious about Buddhism, this is an excellent starting point to begin your practice.

26. The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker

Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker

The level of barbarism that we find appalling today was not only commonplace a few hundred years ago, but in many ways, it was even celebrated.

After clubbing us over the head with data for five hundred pages, Pinker then spends the rest of the book theorizing why the world is becoming more peaceful and nonviolent.

His ideas range from literacy increasing people’s capacity for empathy to technology making people more comfortable and secure, to a more interconnected society requiring more people to rely on one another.

It’s a fascinating read from start to finish. It absolutely changed my view of the world.

27. Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

And that is that, ultimately, to give our lives any sense of meaning and psychological stability, we must choose to believe certain things matter more than ourselves. And this choice requires what he calls a leap of faith.

Whether it’s a religion, a family, a relationship, or a career mission, we all must choose, at some point, to give our lives over to something. And the terrifying thing is that we must do this without knowing if it’s the right thing or not. This is where faith comes in.

It’s not that this is a secular book with a religious example, it’s more that this book shows you that nothing is really secular, and all commitments are ultimately religious to some degree or another.

28. Deep Work by Cal Newport

Deep Work by Cal Newport

The problem, Newport argues, is that in the modern world of the internet and social media, we are increasingly being swamped in distractions and task-switching.

Newport says that people who are able to protect their attention and engage what he calls “deep work” will have a huge leg up in the 21st century. He then gives you strategies to integrate deep work into your life—like establishing routines, time-blocking, limiting exposure to social media, and more.

29. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Tolle teaches us to become present in a classic meditative sense, and it turns out once we become good at remaining present, most of our worries, anxieties, and concerns melt away, because we recognize them for what they always were—fucking imaginary.

30. The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker

The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker

This theory of the blank slate is seductive and has converted many of history’s greatest thinkers, from John Locke to Karl Marx. But unfortunately, today, we know conclusively that it is simply not true.

A great amount of people’s personalities, dispositions, beliefs, and dysfunctions are genetically-driven. Pinker breaks down the research showing this is true, but he also shows the dramatic, political implications of this.

An important book for understanding human nature and coming to terms with our prejudices.

31. Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

So we find patterns in randomness and tell ourselves stories that justify our actions and behaviors. And inevitably, these stories make us look like a brilliant hero.

The book is full of amusing anecdotes and stories, both fictional and real, of people who were fooled by randomness and managed to convince themselves they knew what they were doing in a completely chaotic and fucked up world.

32. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman, Ph.D.

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman

And in this book, he uncovers a number of counterintuitive findings.

For example, did you know the happiest couples don’t resolve all their problems, or that compromise isn’t always the answer, or that fighting is sometimes kind of healthy, or that the most predictive part of your relationship isn’t what you communicate, but rather how it’s communicated?

Yeah, I didn’t know that shit either until I read this book.

33. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

The author goes on to argue that sacrifice is a necessary component of happiness, and that failure and embarrassment are actually healthy experiences that we should all embrace.

It’s sold like 15 million copies, so clearly people give way too many fucks. But the author is extremely handsome, so I have to recommend you buy it.

Looking for More Books to Read?

I’ve put together a list of over 200 “best books” organized by genre , as well as my all-time recommended reading list that includes the book(s) I’m reading each month. Check them out.

3 Ideas That Might Change Your Life

Never underestimate the power of an idea. Drop your email in the box below and I’ll send you three of them that might just change everything for you.

Your information is protected and I never spam, ever. You can view my privacy policy here .

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Learn about the idea that transformed a depressed deadbeat into one of the most important philosophers who ever lived. Read about it in my free 19-page ebook.

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Breaking news, dem staffer axed after saying trump gunman should have taken ‘shooting lessons so you don’t miss next time’.

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A staffer for a Democratic congressman from Mississippi was fired for her inflammatory comments saying she hoped the shooter who targeted Donald Trump  “wouldn’t miss next time.”

“I don’t condone violence but please get you some shooting lessons so you don’t miss next time ooops that wasn’t me talking,” Jacqueline Marsaw wrote on Facebook Saturday evening, shortly after Trump narrowly avoided being shot in the head during a rally in Pennsylvania.

Marsaw, of Natchez, worked as a field director of Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Natchez Democrat reported .

A screenshot shared by Delbert Hosemann calling for the firing of congressional staffer Jacqueline Marsaw shows an alleged post by Warsaw commenting on the shooting of former President Donald Trump

Marsaw also wrote that the shooting – which killed one rally attendee and critically wounded two others – “couldn’t [have] happened to a nicer fellow,” though she insisted that it was a “staged” incident.

“That’s what your hate speech got you!” she added in a third post, seemingly referring to Trump’s often-controversial takes on social and political issues.

As of Sunday morning, all of the posts had been deleted.

“I got overwhelmed in the moment,” Marsaw told the Natchez Democrat.

“I am a diehard Democrat,” she added.

She deleted her posts after she was instructed to do so by a manager on Thompson’s team, Marsaw explained.

Jacqueline Marsaw.

Everything we know about Trump assassination attempt

  • Former President Donald Trump was targeted by a shooter during a campaign rally in Pennsylvania
  • Trump’s face was grazed by a bullet during the shooting
  • The gunman and one bystander have been killed
  • President Biden addressed the nation and referred to the shooting as sick, saying he “tried to get ahold of Donald”
  • Exclusive: First photos of Thomas Matthew Crooks emerge after assassination attempt
  • Donald Trump urges the nation to not let ‘evil win’ and ‘fear not’ after shooting
  • World leaders condemn ‘political violence’ at Trump rally: ‘Can’t take anything for granted’

how to write a book about your life

Keep up to date on updates with The Post’s live blog on the assassination attempt on Trump

The comments, however, continued to draw backlash online.

“@BennieGThompson should FIRE his field director for condoning the attempted assassination of President @realDonaldTrump!!!” the Mississippi GOP wrote on X alongside screenshots of the comments.

Mississippi Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann echoed calls for Marsaw’s ouster, writing that Thompson should let her go “immediately.”

Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) listens as the House Select Committee.

“With staff like this the poison is deep,” former Republican presidential candidate and House Speaker Newt Gingrich chimed in .

On Sunday afternoon, Thompson confirmed that Marsaw was “no longer in [his] employment,” Fox News’ Aishah Hasnie reported .

Follow The Post’s latest stories on the assassination attempt against former President Donald Trump:

  • Trump says he ‘felt the bullet ripping through my skin’ in first statement since assassination attempt
  • Donald Trump urges the nation to not let ‘evil win’ and ‘fear not’ after shooting
  • Gunman behind attempted assassination on Trump had head blown off by Secret Service, sources say; rally-goer killed
  • Trump shooter Thomas Matthew Crooks was loner ‘relentlessly’ bullied in high school: classmate
  • How Trump’s split-second head turn may have saved his life from assassin’s bullet
  • Ex-volunteer fire chief Corey Comperatore ID’d as Trump sniper victim, shielded his daughter from assassin’s bullets
  • Search for Trump shooter’s motive delayed by explosives found in home and car: sources

Keep up to date on updates with the Post’s live blog on the assassination attempt on Trump

Marsaw’s firing came as conservatives decried left-leaning social media users who were celebrating and even making light of the Saturday night shooting .

Some of the tasteless jabs included mock séances summoning the spirit of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, as well as impassioned cries lamenting that the shooter missed.

A screenshot shared by Delbert Hosemann calling for the firing of congressional staffer Jacqueline Marsaw shows an alleged post by Warsaw commenting on the shooting of former President Donald Trump



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  1. How to Write a Book About Your Life: 10 Legacy-Building Steps

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    Before you get started with your autobiography, there are a few things you should consider to help your writing flow. First, write what you know, then write your introduction. Write what you know first. To help construct your story quicker, write everything you know first. Follow this with the information you must research.

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    Identify Your Target Readers. Determine Your Reason for Writing. Adapt Your Writing Style Accordingly. Create an Outline and Structure for Your Life Story. Decide on a Chronological or Thematic Structure. Identify Key Events and Turning Points. Create a Narrative Arc. Gather Memories and Mementos to Jog Your Memory.

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    Learn how to write a book about your life by journaling, outlining, and identifying your theme. Find out how to organize your stories, write interesting characters, and engage your reader with your personal journey.

  7. How Do I Write a Book About My Life

    After you have made the decision to write a book about your life, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. However, there are 10 simple steps that you can follow to get started. 1. Brainstorming: To begin with, brainstorm a list of possible events in your life that you want to include in your book.

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    A good place to start is by identifying the key chapters or sections of your life story, using important events or turning points as headers. Then, you can begin to fill in the details of each chapter with relevant anecdotes and experiences. Consider using vivid language and sensory imagery to bring these experiences to life on the page.

  9. How to Write a Book About Your Life

    3. Pull it All Together. Now pull these components together to craft a single statement. Example: The purpose of my story is to give everyday people the courage to tell their truth and the tools they need to write a high-impact nonfiction book that will save lives, change lives, or transform society. Now that you have your Purpose Statement ...

  10. How To Write A Book About Your Life

    Write in 1st person - Use the pronouns 'I' and 'we' throughout your book. Not only is this the accepted perspective for this kind of writing, it also lends your work subjective authority. This is your story, so make sure the reader knows that by using the 1st person voice.

  11. Telling Your Story: How to Write a Book About Your Life

    Learn the steps to write a memoir or an autobiography of your life story. Find out how to create an outline, do research, include important elements, and end your book. Or hire a professional ghostwriter to do it for you.

  12. How to Write your Life Story: 7 Tips to Start

    5. Allow your authentic voice. As in fiction, in life writing the voice of the memoir author helps to create a distinct sense of character. The acclaimed memoirist and poet Mary Karr gives excellent advice to aspiring life-writers on voice in her book The Art of Memoir (2015). Writes Karr:

  13. How to Write a Memoir: Examples and a Step-by-Step Guide

    7. How to Write a Memoir: Edit, edit, edit! Once you're satisfied with the story, begin to edit the finer things (e.g. language, metaphor, and details). Clean up your word choice and omit needless words, and check to make sure you haven't made any of these common writing mistakes.

  14. How To Write a Book About Your Life: 9 Tips and Tricks

    Learn how to choose a genre, format, theme, and characters for your memoir, autobiography, or narrative nonfiction book. Get expert advice from Gatekeeper Press, a publishing company that can help you realize your dream of writing and publishing your life story.

  15. Writing Your Life Story: How to Write a book about your life

    Book Writing. Writing your life story is a great way to remember and share your unique experiences. It lets you talk to others about your knowledge, lessons learned, and personal growth. Writing a manuscript about your life can be an emotional and life-changing experience, whether you want to leave a memory for future generations or connect ...

  16. How to Write About Your Own Life: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

    Requirements create a sense of anticipation in the reader's mind, as he looks forward to the narrator's success. 5. Conduct basic research. Depending on your story, you may feel you need to do in-depth research on a certain subject, like air force pilots in WWII or life in a refugee camp in Poland.

  17. How To Write A Book About Your Life

    Wondering how to write a book about your life? In this video, I'll be sharing the tips memoir writers need to know in order to be successful. By implementing...

  18. Writing a Novel Inspired by Your Life? The Do's and Don'ts of Writing

    Secondly, I want to write fictional book about my future self and where I see myself in life (which would be actually published as a first one, and at the end of it the reader would be redirected to the "book, I am already writing - non-fictional one), kind of motivational and inspirational.

  19. How to Start Writing Your Life Story

    Focus on the key events that brought you to where you are today. Start writing your story by remembering the life-changing moments that have shaped you. Identify the key events that changed your life for better or for worse. These can be positive events such as getting married, the birth of your children, graduating from university, creating a ...

  20. Your Life's Story: How to Write a Book About Your Life

    Learn how to capture your life's story, find your theme, map out your memories, and find your voice. This guide by Michelle Prince will help you write a memoir that inspires and engages readers.

  21. How to Start Writing a Book of Your Life: A Quick Guide

    Start Generating Ideas. Before you dive too far into dreams of publication, start creating material for your book! If you keep diligent journals, coming up with ideas for your life story is a breeze.

  22. How to Write Your Life Book: 7 Steps (with Pictures)

    6. Before starting your new writing session leave a 3-10 centimeter (1.2-3.9 in) gap in between the previous writing session. If you are feeling uninspired follow the same procedures as you did when you started. 7. When your life book is finished, consider let people read certain parts.

  23. How to Write + Publish Your Life Story: Step-By-Step

    If you want to write your life story, either to have for yourself or to publish as a book, here are some steps to help you through the process. And if you're interested in unique ways to continue the legacy of a loved one who passed away, you can consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes ...

  24. An Easy Autobiography Template Anyone Can Use

    To write a captivating and authentic life story you need an autobiography template with a series of questions that prompts you to discuss your life experiences and values. This is the process we use at A Life Untold to help people write and print captivating and professionally designed autobiographies in an easy and interesting way.

  25. 33 Powerful Books That Might Change Your Life

    Outlive is basically a guide to that prevention, and this book will probably be the gift that I give every single person on their 40th birthday for a long, long time. 20. Stumbling on Happiness by Dan Gilbert. This is my personal favorite book about happiness, and trust me, I've read pretty much every book on happiness.

  26. Dem staffer axed over post wishing Trump shooter had 'lessons'

    Jacqueline Marsaw, who worked as a field director of Rep. Bennie Thompson, wrote three inflammatory Facebook posts in the wake of the attempt on Trump's life.

  27. AI is about to completely change how you use computers

    Suppose you want to see a friend: If your agent talks to theirs, you don't want it to say, "Oh, she's seeing other friends on Tuesday and doesn't want to include you." And if your agent helps you write emails for work, it will need to know that it shouldn't use personal information about you or proprietary data from a previous job.