Rules for Writing an Autobiography

Writing an autobiography can be a fulfilling and challenging task. Making sense out of the grand scheme of what your life represents requires some digging and introspection. This article covers how to go about putting your life experience to paper.


An autobiography is a perspective of life that only its writer can provide. No matter how seemingly ordinary, or non-eventful your life may seem, there is a significance in your experience. Without some sort of record of the places you’ve been, and the people you’ve seen, all of that information dies with you. In a way, an autobiographical record of your life is a gift that you give to the world that formed you, leaving a perspective that only you can provide.


Within the day-to-day scheme of things, life as we know it has a tendency to move so fast that there’s little time to make sense out of what’s going on. Finding that “big picture” perspective on what you’ve been through, who you are, and what it all may mean is one of the many benefits to writing your autobiography.

Family genealogies have resurfaced to become a grounding point for many families. Through understanding their roots, and journeys families are able to make sense out of who they are, and why they do things the way they do. Writing an autobiography can provide this same sense of grounding, and make for a thorough contribution to a family’s genealogy as well.


Not unlike any other narrative form, an autobiography will center around a main theme, or connecting issue that runs through the course of the story. There are a couple different ways to organize your life story, but all of them should center around one main theme. Many autobiographies are written in chronological order, beginning at the beginning and ending in the present. As events in your life unfold on paper, a connecting theme should become apparent.

Another approach is to organize your story around a single event that marks a fundamental aspect of who you are today. In this format, the other parts of the story will all relate in some way to that one singular event. As such, this single event represents the theme of your autobiography.


When putting together an autobiography you may want to include these elements: · Dedication – Decide who to dedicate your book to once your story is completed. Your decision may change along the way as you move through life events. · Foreword – This section is for thoughts on why you wrote this account of your life story. · Vital Statistics – Identifies who wrote the story – name, age, physical characteristics- specific information about who you are. · Family Tree – This section is especially needed if an autobiography will be part of a family’s genealogy record. · Memorabilia – This includes pictures, letters, notes, or awards, that complement the stages in your life.


There are several resources available to help with organizing your story, and how to approach the task. Currently, there are fill-in-the-blank books made up of questions that draw out your life’s events. There are also online membership sites available that provide this fill-in-the-blank format, most of which require a membership fee.

A variation on this approach would be to put together your own fill-in-the-blanks binder, and complete each section in the order of your choosing. This approach allows for more flexibility in terms of adding memorabilia as zipper pockets can easily be inserted in your binder.

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