Each life is unique and exclusive, with its own merits and flaws, life lessons, and prominence. Even though every single day of your life may be filled with unique moments, writing an autobiography will still be complicated. Do you want to learn how to write an autobiography that will be impressive and flawless? Start with making a list of the most remarkable moments, places, and people in your life. Take your time to brainstorm and collect memories of the most prominent events and experiences. Then, check out a few examples of autobiographies to get inspired and guided. Use free templates, helpful sentence starter ideas, and questions that will make the process much simpler and more effective. Keep reading the article to discover the basics of autobiographical writing and immerse yourself in its specifications.
What Is an Autobiography: Definition and Key Features
Before you consider any writing tips or instructions, you should start with the autobiography definition that is likely to guide you and give extra ideas. Autobiography is a subtype of biography that focuses on the author’s story and is told in chronological order. The purpose of essay writing may differ a lot, but in general, it is about giving an account of the person’s life.
At this point, when you decide to write an autobiography, you should start with its form. There are four main categories of autobiographical writing, each having its peculiarities.
- An autobiography. It is a long and comprehensive description of the author’s life. In most instances, it takes more than 250 pages to cover all the details from birth to the present time. The goals of autobiography writing may differ a lot, but they can be reduced to a few ones, including saving memories, reconciling the past, leaving a mark, or sharing a life story with a large audience.
- An autobiographical essay for college. This is another type of autobiography that features concision and flawless structure. It is usually submitted with the application in order to convince the admission officers you are the one who should be enrolled in the educational institution.
- Memoirs. This type of writing differs from the previous ones, as it does not have to cover the whole life. Instead, the writer can focus on the most prominent and important events, depicting them in as much detail as possible.
- Personal essay. It is the shortest type of autobiography writing, which presupposes more emotions. A personal essay may also convey a specific life event or unique experience that may be interesting for readers.
It is obvious that each type of autobiography has exclusive features and peculiarities, so they should be taken into account when choosing the writing strategy. Search the web to find a comprehensive autobiography template and follow the guidelines to discover the fundamental elements of each essay type writing.
Memoir vs Autobiography: Similarities and Differences
When you start understanding how to write an autobiography, you should double-check if you know the peculiarities of its subtypes. Autobiography and memoirs are similar but different. In fact, they are frequently confused, as they definitely have much in common, depicting the author’s life in the first person.
At the same time, it is inevitable to mind critical discrepancies that make these two writing types unique and extraordinary. As a memoir is concentrated on a specific period of life, the autobiography deals with the whole life strain. Additionally, there is a plethora of other distinctions that mind working on essay writing.
An account of the author’s whole life
A description of a specific experience, event, or time span
Long and comprehensive
Short and selective
Explains motivations, ideas, and thoughts behind decisions
Focuses on the emotions of the experience
Keeps the audience interested with the background information and critical details
Sounds like a novel due to the variety of details and emotionally colored descriptions
Browsing the web, you will come across a multitude of impressive autobiographies and memoirs of famous people, which may serve as authentic guides to your custom writing. Read some of the essays, dive into the peculiarities of the writing, detect helpful tips and tricks that will advance your writing to an exceptionally new level, and apply them in your work.
Here are a few examples of autobiographical papers worth attention:
- Agatha Christie: An Autobiography (Agatha Christie);
- The Story of my Life (Helen Keller);
- Losing My Virginity (Richard Branson);
- Autobiography of Mark Twain (Mark Twain);
- I Am Ozzy (Ozzy Osbourne).
Additionally, there are lots of interesting memoirs to read and comprehend:
- Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt);
- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (Dave Eggers);
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou);
- Hunger: A Memoir of My Body (Roxane Gay);
- Just Kids (Patti Smith).
Biography vs Autobiography: Critical Discrepancies to Mind
Once you are aware of the key differences between autobiography and memoir writing, it is indispensable to mind another type of work that may puzzle and confuse you. A biography is a similar paper that tells a story of a person’s life. Nonetheless, unlike writing an autobiography, the author of a biographical paper should focus on the third person, the subject of the essay. Detailed information on critical life events, information about education, work, and social relationships should also be mentioned, but using the third person narration.
The source of information for biography works may differ a lot, ranging from journal articles, interviews, essays, newspapers, and up to photographs.
An account of the author’s life
An account of a person’s life (not the author’s)
Written in first person
Written in the third person
Reveals information experienced by the writer
Introduces facts gatherers from the subject, and alternative sources
Related to the feelings and ideas of the writer
Has limited access to the thoughts and feelings of the person
Check out several sample biographies of famous people:
- Princess Diana - A Biography of The Princess of Wales (Drew L. Crichton);
- His Excellency: George Washington (Joseph J. Ellis);
- Einstein: The Life and Times (Ronald William Clark).
Fundamental Components of Autobiography: Structure and Its Peculiarities
Writing your autobiography is much simpler if you know the peculiarities of the genre. Therefore, before you dive into the essay creation process, you should single out the most prominent elements of autobiography and the structural components to be included.
As it has already been mentioned, a coherent autobiography should deal with the most critical aspects of your life story. At the same time, there is no need to share every single detail and emotion you lived through. Here are a few most prominent elements to mention:
Authentic title. You can surely use the classic phrase “My Autobiography” to title your paper, but if you want to make the paper more impressive and interesting, use alternatives.
Background information. This is the introductory part of your story that should include information about your origin, hometown, family members, and peculiarities of your education.
Valuable experienced. What has influenced your worldview? These are the aspects to be mentioned in this section.
Specifications of professional establishment and growth. In the overwhelming majority of instances, the stories about career development are the most interesting and inspiring, so you should give them ultimate attention.
Story of failure. Along with the victories, we all have failures, and it is inevitable to admit some mistakes. This section is not about your failures but mainly about the lessons you have learned and the conclusions you made in certain situations.
First-person narration. If you want to sound influential and close to the audience, you should write the autobiography in first-person narration. It adds to the intimate feel, emphasizing your honesty, transparency, and straightforwardness.
How to Write an Autobiography: A Step-by-Step Guide
Finally, once you have selected the type of autobiographical writing and discovered its peculiarities, you may proceed directly to the writing process. At this point, it is obvious that the preparatory stage is inevitable, so you should start with the data research, brainstorm and outline. The whole writing process will consist of seven simple steps that will keep your work structured and easy.
Step 1 - Read Sample Autobiographies
How do you stay inspired and motivated for autobiography writing? Where can you find authentic tips and exclusive ideas? Browse the web and read a few sample papers written by well-known people. In fact, this step may be beneficial in a few ways. First, it will give you an idea of how to write an autobiography that will look flawless. Besides, it will provide you with a hint on how to structure and format the paper. Finally, it will enrich you with impeccable ideas and effective writing instruments.
Here are a few autobiographies to look through:
- Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela);
- The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank);
- Dreams from My Father (Barack Obama);
- Faster than Lightning (Usain Bolt);
- My Autobiography (Charlie Chaplin).
Step 2 - Brainstorm Ideas
The life experiences that are valuable and memorable for you will not always be interesting for readers. Therefore, you should take some time to analyze different eras of your life coming up with the brightest ones. Focus on the most prominent people, life lessons, and events that have molded your character and influenced your worldview.
Step 3 - Create an Outline
While most people ignore and skip this step, you should remember that the outline is a critical part of the process. It simplifies and guides your writing so that you can achieve the desired results much faster and keep the paper more impressive.
Planning is the point that will remind you how to write an autobiography that will be well-structured and consistent. Make sure you divide your paper into the introductory part, main body, and conclusion, which will contribute to the relevance and readability of the essay.
Step 4 - Research
Are you done with the outline? Now you need to extend each point to create the first draft. Pay attention to each structural part, filling it with meaningful information. Talk to family and friends to remind some details you have forgotten. Do some background research so that the facts you mention are real.
Step 5 - Come up with the First Draft
Finally, when you are done with the preparatory stage, you may proceed to essay writing. Do you know how to start an autobiography? Get the reader’s attention and make them thrilled about your story. Follow the outline to create a coherent text. Use transition words and phrases to keep the sequence and make the story appealing.
Step 6 - Proofread and Edit the Paper
Working on the first draft, you should not care about grammar, punctuation, and other points that may distract you from the content. After you are done with the first draft, you should take a few minutes to rest before you proofread and edit the paper.
You may surely ask someone for help or use online proofreading tools, but the final draft should be free of typos, mistakes, and inaccuracies anyway.
Step 7 - Ask Trusted Readers for Feedback
The autobiography is a lengthy and important paper that takes a lot of time to consider and write. Therefore, chances are you want it to be exciting and impressive. Thus, once you are done with the whole process, ask a reputable reader, or a few, to read the essay and come up with critical feedback.
Writing Tips that Will Contribute to the Quality of Your Autobiography
Now that you know how to write an autobiography essay, you may feel ready to create the most influential and impressive paper ever. Nonetheless, there are a few extra tips that may simplify the process and advance the quality of your writing.
- Keep the paper concise and meaningful. Writing an autobiography, it is inevitable to combine flawless structure with creative elements, informative content with emotional elements, which will keep the paper both consistent and enjoyable to read.
- Write in the first person. The readers want to hear the story of your life, so you should write it in the first person to keep it more intimate and honest.
- Read a comprehensive autobiography example before writing. Tons of ideas, excellent writing techniques, and unique structure tips may be detected while reading sample papers.
- Create an extraordinary paper. Avoid cliches, decent paper structure, and other elements that can transform your essay into a trivial academic paper. Follow the basic rules, but use creative instruments to make your writing stand out.
- Add bright and vivid details. Although autobiography is mainly about precision and accuracy, you should know how to add a little flair to trivial stories. Use effective writing techniques to help readers understand your feelings and your vision.
- Show your vulnerability. The readers want to see real people sharing their life experiences. Do not hide your emotions, admit your failures and emphasize the lessons you have learned from certain situations.
- Avoid boring stories. There is no need to include every story of your life in the autobiography, as it will make it tiresome and daunting to read. Instead, avoid meaningless details, concentrating on the core facts, ideas, and thoughts.
- Show your personality and character in the paper. Stay authentic and honest with the readers so that they share your feelings.
- Follow the general theme of the story. Avoid distracting ideas that may confuse the audience and make them lose the central idea of the paper.
- Do not just chronicle, but impress and captivate readers. Add some details to every story to make it appealing.
Once you are aware of the key features of autobiographical writing, you are ready to create the most influential, appealing, and impressive paper. Follow the guidelines and mind important tips that will keep your essay not only exciting but also informative, relevant, and valuable.
At the same time, it is critical to mention that flawless writing skills and comprehensive guidelines are not enough for impeccable autobiography creation. Instead, it also takes much time and effort to come up with the necessary text. However, those students who do not have enough resources for essay creation should not despair.
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What to Include in Your Autobiography?
When you write an autobiography, you should be attentive to detail. It is not a simple description of your life, so flawless structure and excellent content should be included. Make sure you highlight the most critical facts about yourself, including the time and place of birth, your likes and dislikes, personality traits, unique events that influenced your life, and similar options.
What not to Include in an Autobiography?
Although the style of autobiography is comparatively free, there are a few options that can affect its quality. Thus, it is indispensable to avoid anecdotes, inappropriate stories, odd details, cliche conclusions, and self-pity, which will not contribute to the relevance of your paper.
How Long Should an Autobiography Be?
There are no specific rules on the length of the autobiography, so it may vary a lot depending on the assignment. At the same time, in the overwhelming majority of instances, they are around 250-450 pages long.
How to Write a Short Autobiography?
Excellent writing skills and awareness of the autobiography specifications are inevitable for flawless paper writing. There are a few steps you will have to take in order to thrive with your assignment. Start with an appealing but simple introduction. Add important facts about your background. Mention your education, achievements, and awards. Do not forget about other important aspects of your life that will be followed by a closing statement.