Congratulations! You have finally taken the plunge and decided to pen down a masterpiece: your life’s story. That’s terrific news on its own. Now you will be able to preserve all the experiences you’ve had, your lessons and learning, the people who shaped your personality and influenced you to become who you are, and the places you’ve left little pieces of your heart.
But it is important to remember that it can be an overwhelming experience when you’re trying to cover your life in words.
Reminiscing the memories of the amazing things that happened to you, unfortunately, go hand in with the not-so-good experiences; the love and loss of people and the ups and downs can rewind time for you.
However, this cloud, too, has a silver lining.
Reliving these moments can help you share with the world the real aspects of who you are as a person, tell stories that may influence and inspire other people, help people learn, grow, and shape themselves, leave a legacy, ensure your knowledge and wisdom didn’t go to waste and let your memories live again.
So without further ado, let’s touch on every topic that will help you curate a book on the story of your life.
In this blog, we will:
- Give you a 3-step process on how to write a book about yourself
- Share tips that take your storytelling the extra mile
- Discuss the benefits of getting professional writing help
- Delve into the available publishing options
How to Start Writing a Book about Your Life
While the idea of writing your story might be enticing, it can get very overwhelming to decide what makes it into your book and what doesn’t. In fact, without the right guidance, most first-time authors don’t even know how to get started with the process at all!
If you’ve been struggling with the same, here’s an easy three-step process to work on your autobiography.
Step 1: Decide the format
While to you, the words “life story” or “autobiography” may only mean one thing: the chronological succession of events in your life, that’s just one of the many ways you can write your story!
Depending on what you want to highlight, you can choose from the different types of autobiographies that exist and structure your book accordingly. Here are the formats:
Remember, you need to decide how you want to tell the story before you can sit down and decide what you want to tell in your story.
Step 2: Brainstorm—ask yourself the right questions
Once you’ve decided on the format, you’ll have more clarity about the kind of content this particular type of biography requires.
While a lot of this step is just about reminiscing the past—either by tapping into your memories or taking help from pictures, letters, journals, or even loved ones—it is equally important to narrow down what questions your book needs to answer.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you brainstorm:
- What events changed my life?
- What were the best and worst moments of my life?
- Who was I before, and how have I changed?
- Who and what shaped me into the person I am today?
- What are my biggest successes and failures?
No matter the type of autobiography you’re writing, these questions will help you structure your book in a way that offers the most information in the best way!
Step 3: Write a personal essay
Any author worth their salt will tell you that working in drafts is the key to writing an exceptional book.
Now, the specifics of your first draft may vary from manuscript to manuscript and genre to genre, but in general, it represents your ideas in their rawest form—and here’s something no one will tell you: it does not need to be the length of a finished manuscript.
In fact, we insist you start small, especially if you’re working on your life’s story.
Start with an essay detailing everything that needs to go into your book: this is your first draft. Now, keep adding insights and experiences to it until you get to where your manuscript needs to be.
The Secrets of Writing a Book about Your Life
Your Story is Important
Now that you’ve decided to write about your life, it’s incredibly important to give your story importance and believe in it whole heatedly as your legacy.
Doing so is crucial for understanding the impact it could have on people as they navigate through each chapter seamlessly stitched together and learn all your life lessons that were painfully acquired.
Becoming transparent with who you are and putting yourself out there is not easy, but the overall task seems to get easier once you start thinking of this book as your legacy.
It starts with you and the belief that your book’s characters, settings, and messages are truly worthwhile. The thoughts will start manifesting on the page, and you’ll write a true masterpiece worthy enough to be your legacy in this world.
To connect with your readers right on page one, it is imperative that you’re connected with the idea of being as true to yourself as you can be.
Paint a Picture
Most readers connect with a book by creating their imaginary world from its characters and scenarios. The more descriptive and detailed it is, the more vivid and clear your imagination is. The book runs like a movie in your brain, with each character holding the unique features described by the author. Your life’s story doesn’t have to be different.
If you want the readers to connect with your book, it is important to engage them on a deeper level.
Unlike digital media, your words are the only tools you have at your disposal when trying to explain your life story to strangers in a book. When used correctly, words hold the power to convey even more emotion and personality than a movie. To make it truly work, you have to pay attention to making every scene, every setting, and every character as fleshed out as possible.
Include rigorous detail and clarity when describing a scene or setting from your life by first building an image of it in your head and then trying to display it with your words as accurately as possible.
The emotional weightage of allowing your readers to build an imaginary picture in their head once they read your description is underrated as it allows them to better connect with you and put themselves in that specific situation.
Outline and Organize
As you begin writing, you may want to get into it as quickly as possible and believe that going into it raw would evoke the most emotion out of you and transfer that to your readers.
While there may be some truth to that, we’re here to tell you that telling a coherent, sometimes even chronological, story with all your memories neatly organized can be even more impactful and thought-provoking for your readers.
So before you write down the final copy, sit with your memories and jot them down as they come to you. At this stage, you don’t need to have a particular order for them.
Next, arrange them in an order that could draw out the most emotion. We suggest a chronological order as that’s the only way to truly depict all the ebbs and flows you’ve gone through in your life.
It’s also especially important to be coherent.
Remember, it may be easy for you to understand the different phases of your life, no matter how disjointed on paper. The reader, however, relies completely on your ability to seamlessly tie everything together and have it read like a story.
Let’s be honest; you must have lived a significant part of your life if you think it is now time to share it with the world.
And while, on the one hand, that makes your experiences a source of learning for your readers, it could also mean that there are a lot of memories to recount—some of which may now be fuzzy or even warped.
Thus, most of the time, they can’t be completely relied upon if you want to convey the whole truth and a specific message from that memory. That’s why it becomes incredibly important to carry out your research and flesh out your own story.
Talk to important people you’ve interacted with to extract the full authenticity of certain situations and dialogues you built up in your head. Access the correct version of those dialogues to use them in your book.
Visit places from your past to better jog your memory about what occurred and what you’ve made up in your head since time passed.
Most importantly, even though you’re writing about your own life, you may need to take consent from some of the more important characters in your story as to whether you’re permitted to mention them as a part of your story or not.
Identify the Perspective of Characters
You may have years and years of bitter-sweet experiences, but not all can make it to your life’s story.
Of course, you need to keep the significant characters, memories, and experiences on top and let go of the ones you believe will not add value to the write-up. With that said, don’t miss out on people who’ve played a huge role in shaping the person you have become and the life you have lived.
Regardless of whether your experiences with someone were good or bad, if a character played a special role in your life, you must set up a list that contains all of them. In some people’s cases, that could be a pretty short list, whereas it could be extended for others.
Keep the story neat and engaging to maintain the reader’s interest. This is important not only for the story itself but also for maintaining the perspectives of the characters in your mind as you write your book.
Identify the people that really made a difference in your life and write how you let them influence your life.
Shaping the entire story on a bunch of special characters is also a pretty popular way of writing a biography, as it shows the impact and importance relationships can have on your life.
Dare to be Vulnerable
How do you distinguish an excellent life story from an ordinary one? By measuring the emotion that comes through it. And how does a writer evoke true emotion? By daring to be vulnerable and releasing all insecure thoughts and feelings on the page.
Not only does this help them connect more with their audience, but it also removes a huge burden from their shoulders that they’ve been carrying for some time.
Now, we know revealing the truth about your more embarrassing and delicate memories can be pretty scary to even think about. But it is through that process that a story transcends time and stays relevant in the minds of its readers for the years to come.
Putting yourself out there also increases your respect among your readers for having the courage to expose all your deepest and darkest memories.
The best part is that sharing something that personal also increases the overall authenticity of all the stories in the book, as readers find it hard to believe that you’d fake something that delicate.
Pay Attention to the Detail
Something that gets lost in the shuffle when you’re learning how to write a story about your life is the intimate details that make a story truly good. It is those details that set a story apart from hundreds like it before.
Now, we know that your story, like that of every human, has unique aspects. But it is also super important to dive into those unique aspects and explain them to the best of your ability.
For example, when describing a scene from your life or a setting, make sure you go into complete detail about your surroundings, especially the dialogue that took place during that scene.
This is where your research comes in handy, as understanding what went down that day and the conversation that took place gives you a better idea of how to use it when writing your story.
Don’t Miss the Dialogue
Let us take you through a hypothetical scenario to reiterate the importance of fleshing out the dialogues.
Say you start writing about a conversation that occurred between you and one of your friends about a woman you liked. Now that conversation can be perceived in one of two ways.
It can be super romantic and heartwarming or come off as misogynistic and thoughtless. The only aspect that decides which way it goes is your overall tone, language, and flow when writing these dialogues. Plus, if you’re consistent enough with your tone, that can also help set the mood and style of the entire book.
We live in times of social media, and everything you say is under a critical lens.
Your story is going to receive judgment and critique from everyone who’s anyone. And while we suggest that you don’t let the negativity bog you down, it is also equally important to stay with the times, know what your audience will react more positively to and say things in a conscious and sensitive manner.
Take it to the Finish Line
Even the most experienced writers may lose their spark as they get to the end.
It can be anything ranging from impatience to just getting done with the manuscript to sheer fatigue. And so, there is a big chance that you, too, may start regretting your decision to write this book close to the end, especially considering how much you’re emotionally giving away in this book.
At times like these, it is incredibly important to tell yourself why you started this book and the message that your life story will give your readers as an extra source of motivation.
Remember: staying committed till the end may be difficult, but if you achieve that feat, then what awaits you on the other side is satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.
Sometimes you have to admit that you don’t have a particular skill, and that’s completely fine.
You may want people to read your story, but you may not have the right motivation, time, words, or skill to put it out there for them. Don’t worry because there are amazing professional writers waiting to do the job for you.
While we do admit that something as intimate and close to your heart as your life story may be difficult to entrust someone else with, some of you also have to admit that you don’t possess enough writing chops or pro experience to be able to write a concise, engaging story that could draw from the good memories and discard the rest.
And if you’re worried about a stranger writing your life story, then search long and hard till you find someone who can really see you and your story for what it truly is and do justice to it.
Now, if you do decide to hire a ghostwriter for your project, these are some of the benefits you could get:
Hire a Ghostwriter and Reap the Rewards
- The cost of hiring a ghostwriter is negligible compared to the royalty you’ll earn once the book is published.
- It might get complete, as a ghostwriter will be motivated to make a living out of it.
- A ghostwriter’s experience and proper system may allow them to finish the book much sooner than you would on your own.
- You will be more confident about publishing your book.
The obvious aim or end goal of a memoir or memory-based biography is to clear your viewpoint, present your way of thinking to your readers and clear up your side of the story. But a very important step that writers have to take even after they’ve penned down their entire work is to choose the right publisher and, more importantly, the right publishing method.
If you also aim to earn as much as possible from your memoir and take complete ownership of the content you’ve written, then you can go the self-publishing route, as most writers go these days due to it being much faster.
There’s also traditional publishing, where you hand your book off to some known publisher who takes a cut of your earnings from the book and a fee for publishing your book in the name of their company.
There are a few risks associated with self-publishing as it may not turn out perfect even if you use the Amazon self-publishing platform, but in our mind, that’s still the superior publishing method if you are looking for maximum returns.
What to Expect
Every individual is unique in how they perceive something, which makes each of us special. That is something you must consider before publishing your book, as you must remember that even if you think it’s amazing, plenty of people might disagree with you.
And even more important than that is to manage your expectations about the book’s success. Some writers believe right off the bat that their book is a winner and it will be a super hit as soon as it’s released into the world.
While your manuscript may have all the makings of an award-winning book, you need to remember that in real life, success seldom comes overnight. This is why it is super important to manage your expectations and be patient enough to wait for your book to succeed.
Positivity is the key to success in this case, as always believing that your book will be eventually successful is the food that’ll keep you going years after it’s published.