Guidelines on how to Start an Autobiography

Guidelines on how to Start an Autobiography

Knowing how to start an autobiography lies in having a clear idea of what writing one entails. An autobiography refers to the story of a person’s life written by that person. There are however instance when someone thinks they have a story to tell but they lack writing skills. In such cases, the autobiography can be written with the assistance of a co-author so long as the story remains to be in first-person.

Here are some basic guidelines that will help you know how to start an autobiography. These are broken down into the following segments:

Do proper research

  • Start documentation-Documenting your life regularly is one of the best ways to get started on writing an autobiography. Mementos, videos, photographs and journals of the past are of great use in this case. Photos especially tell the truth. Whether it is pictures, videos or a journal, they can help jog your memory.
  • Interview friends and family-Begin collecting notes and working on your autobiography by talking to people. It is highly likely you feel you know yourself well and your “story” but others have a different outlook than you. Ask for sincere impressions by carrying out one-on-one interviews, recording them as well as writing a survey and asking others to anonymously fill them out. The questions you ask should be specific such as their strongest memory of you, ask them what in their opinion is your most significant achievement in life, whether you are a difficult person to deal with and whether they view you as a good friend, lover or person.
  • Dig deep into family archives- Going through your personal documents is not enough to in knowing how to start an autobiography. Make sure you comb through all the leavings of past generations. If there are letters, read them as well as any diaries or journals you can get your hands on. You can look at old photographs to jog your memories.
  • Include an exciting project into the autobiography-Planning beforehand is a sure way to ensure you write a compelling autobiography. If your life is without much excitement, plan something that will get you out of your comfort zone. This way, you will have something exciting to include in your autobiography.
  • Read autobiographies written by others-Before you start writing your own autobiography, read those written by other individuals. A good example can be found at

Find a starting place

The most difficult aspect of how to start an autobiography is identifying the core of the story. In worse case scenarios, autobiographies can be a ramble of boring details that lack specific or interesting details thus failing to hold water. Find the most important details about your life people that people would be interested in.

Name ways through which you have changed. Consider writing a one page draft of who you were five years ago or even a couple of months back. Also, you need to include important characters into your story since every story must have supporting cast. The main characters though should be kept at the least minimal number. You do not want to overwhelm your readers by introducing new names in every page or chapter.

Guidelines on how to start an autobiography

Once you have gathered enough information, lay out the outline. By mastering this aspect on how to start an autobiography, you will be in a position to deliver impressive work.

Basic information

Start by providing basic information. This should include your name, the names of your siblings and parents, your birthplace, birth order and birthplace.


Once you present basic information, it should be followed by your life in a chronological order. Years of childhood are often given more importance since they are important in personality development. Subsequent sections should include academics and professional life. If you want, you can share your first earning/salary experience. Include different kinds of experiences into the autobiography, tragic ones as well.

First experiences

You should have a different section for first experiences such as

  • First bike
  • First day in school
  • First day in college
  • First motorcycle
  • First salary

There are numerous other experiences you can add in this criteria. An ideal sample autobiography can be found at presenting these step by step achievements.

Tips to remember

It is not enough to know what needs to be included in your autobiography. As you get to know more about how to start an autobiography, keep these things in mind:

  • Start writing-No secret exists to writing great autobiographies. You simply need to get started. Every day, give your best to write an additional chapter in your autobiography. Procrastinating the task will not get you anywhere.
  • Write a production schedule-If you lack a production schedule, chances are you are likely to fail. Determine how many words you want to deliver on a daily basis and make this part of your work habits. Commit a certain period each day to work on the autobiography. Try as much as you possibly can to stay focused.
  • Incorporate different elements into the autobiography-As you go along the story, it is possible to get stuck or find yourself lost on where you need to go next. In such cases, you need to get creative. Use the documents and research you have collected to get started.
  • Understand difference between summary and scene-When writing in prose, you should note the difference between a scene and summary. Good writing should be paced in accordance to ability of summarizing periods at a distance as well as in narration. You also have to slow down moments that are important and project them in scenes.
  1. Scene example-We could hear the whine of the dog and as Grandma opened the door just a crack, she firmly set her foot against it, as if she was afraid of something.
  2. Summary Example-“That summer, we moved a lot. It was mainly about scraped knees and hot dogs at gas stations. We visited our grandma in Kankakee, fished at Raccoon Lake and at Diamond Lake, we got leeches.
  3. Write specifically and small-Good writing should be comprised of specific details and luminous facts. Your autobiography will be far off better if you can make the writing more detail and specific oriented. Attempt to make each scene important by adding everything you can to it. In the event it proves to be much, it is possible to cut back at a later date. Give particular details while describing your core relationships. For instance, if it is with your father, focus on aspects the writer can see such as his routine after work, some of the things he said to your mother, how he used to eat his teak etc.
  4. Do not overuse dialog-For the inexperienced writer, it is possible to overuse dialog yet, it is extremely difficult in an autobiography. Dialog should be used only when it is necessary for the characters to speak and should be summarized. It is advisable to aim at having just one dialog after every two hundreds words of narration or summary.

The most important tips to remember on how to start an autobiography

  • Make it simple-Keep things as simple as you possibly can. There is no need to exaggerate in order to make your life events appear interesting. In essence, readers are far more interested in learning the truth regarding your life
  • Write what you know not what you assume is expected-Remember expectations/inhibitions will leave you with doubts and not help in writing your autobiography. Such things therefore should be kept at bay.
  • Create your autobiography’s outline as it makes it possible to work in a systematic manner. Break the content into sections that will keep your readers interested and make it easy for them to focus on each section.
  • Before you begin writing, jot your points down as this helps in freezing volatile memories that you might have a hard time recalling the second time.
  • Add spice to keep readers interested without making any exaggerations. What you need to do is elaborate on interesting events in your life to keep the read an interesting one. You can read more on how to write your autobiography at

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