How to Write a Personal Autobiography

How to Write a Personal Autobiography

Knowing how to write a personal autobiography is very important because at some point in your career or academic life you will have to make a personal presentation or write a personal autobiography. A personal autobiography is simply a story or account of an individual’s life written by that individual. It is the story of the life of a person that the same person tells in writing-

Although people associate autobiographies with celebrities, you do not have to be famous to share your life story. If you went through a situation that required you to struggle to comprehend or overcome, you may write an autobiography that will help others facing a similar situation overcome or understand it. Generally, whether you are writing an autobiography as part of your course work or simply because you have a story to share with friends, family and the world, you should know how to write your autobiography to come up with an excellent piece.

A step-by-step guide on how to write a personal autobiography

  1. Know the purpose

Before you start writing a personal autobiography, know the purpose or reason for writing it. Perhaps, you want to relate the story of your life from the time you were born to this date. When you know the purpose of a personal autobiography, determining where to start writing it becomes easy. If you intend to publish the autobiography, determine the central theme that will run through your autobiography rather than retelling life stories. Also think about the pattern of your life. This includes illnesses and losses that you may have suffered in life. You might not determine the theme of your autobiography until you start outlining or writing it. However, it is important to think about a major theme for the autobiography so that you can have it at the back of your mind as you start writing-

  1. Map your life

Once you have known the purpose of your autobiography, start by creating a timeline of your life. A timeline will enable you to include all important events and dates in your autobiography. It also gives you a structure on which to build the autobiography. You can refer to this step as brainstorming. Include everything that you can recall in the timeline. This includes your birthplace, time, what happened to you as you grow, your career and relationships, the school and college that you attended, as well as the most important people in your life.

  1. Select the best stories

You have had many experiences in life. If you opt to include all of them in a personal autobiography, it can be quite long. Therefore, you have to choose what to include and what to leave out. Choose only topics that readers will find fascinating.

These include:

  • Places

Tell readers more about the places that you have been to as a child, young adult and adult. Explain what you found fascinating in those places, why they are significant to you and what makes you remember or treasure them.

  • People

Include people that you consider important in your life. These are people who impacted on your life as a child, youth, teenager or adult. Tell readers what these people did to you or your life and why you treasure them. Explain your interactions, relationships or affiliations with such people and what you learnt from your interactions with them. How were they behaving, what were their likes and dislikes among others.

  • Experiences and events

Jot down life experiences and events that you recall vividly. You should have a notebook with you everywhere you go so that you can jot down any event or experience that you remember. Such experiences and events could be something that happened when you were living in a certain place. It could also be something that your favorite aunt or uncle did or something that you saw in a city that you visited once.

Selecting the best stories for a personal autobiography is an art that everybody who knows how to write a personal autobiography had to master at some point. This is because these stories are what gives a personal autobiography interest and color. Additionally, they enable you to build the structure of your autobiography-

  1. Write the first draft of your personal autobiography

In this step, select the format, structure or style of your autobiography. A personal autobiography can be written in different styles. For instance, you can use first person or second person. However, most people prefer the first person approach because it makes the autobiography more personal. Your autobiography should also have a structure. Your list of the best stories should guide you in outlining or structuring your autobiography. Simply organize them in a way that will make your final autobiography easy to read.

Additionally, bring out the main theme and supporting themes clearly. Some of themes that can run through a personal autobiography include love, adventure, work, perseverance, and family, lost love and traveling among others. However, the major theme has to be dominant and readers should be able to point it out with ease. Remember that, although there are many ways of telling the story of your life, you need to remain focused. Therefore, make sure that the placement of every event, experience, or story is correct and logical. Nevertheless, do not worry about spelling, grammar and punctuation at this point. Just write logically.

  1. Edit your autobiography

While editing your autobiography, have the major points of your life story in mind. Read the autobiography carefully to ensure that you have included the most important things in life such as the details of your family, achievements and goals. Writing an autobiography whose main themes stand out indicates that you really know how to write a personal autobiography. Remember that most readers are interested in discovering new things about you, your experiences, places that you have been to, people that you have interacted with and how all these have impacted on your life. Therefore, make sure that your autobiography highlights what makes you unique.

While editing:

  • Check the organization or order of your autobiography to ensure that information and ideas flow logically.
  • Ensure that you have included relevant information only depending on the purpose of your autobiography.
  • Determine whether you have been honest and positive in the autobiography.
  • Read your autobiography aloud to ensure that all sentences make sense.
  • Determine if you should add information to make your autobiography better.

Example of a personal autobiography

When you have a sample to guide you, knowing how to write a personal autobiography becomes easier.

Here is a personal autobiography sample to guide you:

I was born in Seoul, Korea, on 9th February 1970. I was brought up in a family of five members. We received some American visitors in our home when I was pursuing my elementary school education. I realized that the visitors, who my father welcomed to our home, were missionaries.

During the period that they stayed in our home, they taught us the essence of family love. They made our life better and it was then that we all became interested and happy about the gospel. Consequently, we were all baptized in a local church.

My brothers and I were raised knowing the gospel and we eventually became missionaries too. My younger brother became a missionary serving in Daejun mission, my older brother served in Seoul mission while my parents were serving in Seoul temple. I went to Pusan mission. We worked concurrently as missionaries. The family of my elder brother was mostly at home alone.

It was while I was serving as a missionary that I met Min Ju who later became my wife. Our meetings were mostly organized by my younger brother who was studying music before becoming a missionary. We were later married on 26th February 2000 in Seoul Temple.

I have had great opportunities in life and I am grateful. I hope that someday I will share all the blessings that I have had with others.

Despite being short, this sample autobiography has been written by a person who clearly knows how to write a personal autobiography because it includes all elements of a great personal autobiography.


  • Write an interesting and vivid personal autobiography but do not include unimportant details.
  • You can include a foreword, vital statistics, family tree, or dedication in the autobiography.
  • When writing a personal autobiography to pass the story of your life to heirs, you can include memorabilia such as medals, pictures and letters-

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