Whether you’ve decided to do it for the sake of your legacy or because it was given to you as a major writing assessment in college, here are a handful of pointers to aid you on your journey!
Find a Dedicated Time and Space
You may find that it’s difficult to concentrate in certain areas of your home. There may be too many distractions or others interfering with your thoughts. Try to resolve this issue by either escaping your daily surroundings or creating a more inspiring, devoted work space where you can really immerse yourself in your thoughts. Try going to your local library, and find cozy spot to nestle in there. Or, better, yet, if you like the constant hum of conversation coupled with the sweet, sweet sound of an espresso machine working it’s magic, head to your favorite local coffee spot! If you’d rather work in the comfort of your own home, then makeover a little project space for yourself. Go to the local antique store, scoop up a small desk, and adorn it with things that inspire you. Think photos of loved ones, your favorite flowers, or even a yummy candle to light when you are ready to dig in.
Create a Timeline
To help you get started, take it back to high school English and construct an outline of your life. Start with bigger, broader chapters or categories, such as “Birth to Preschool” or “Family History”, and then create smaller subsets within those categories. You could use the tried and true roman numeral technique, a standard timeline, or go the more creative route and construct of brainstorm bubble map. It really depends on your personality and what you’re comfortable with. Regardless of which method you use, it will help you get focused and organized. If that seems too overwhelming, you could also use a guided service, like what is offered at www.lifestorypro.com. They do all of the organizing for you and send you weekly prompts, so the entire process is a lot more digestible!
Know Your Audience
Writing for your family members is one thing. Writing for the general public is another. Are you planning on passing this down from generation to generation, or is it more for only your own children? Even if you plan on it being handed down to your grandchildren, you may want to consider writing it as though they’re the general public. Not that your grandkids won’t get to know you on a comfortable level on their own, but this way, if they want to look back on it when they have aged, they will get to refresh their memories with the whole story.
Be Judicious About Content
The last tip easily coincides with this one: only include what you’re comfortable including. Do you want your whole story to be told? Are there parts of your life that could maybe be a little too eye-opening for future generations? Topics like adoptions, affairs, or trouble with the law may need some extra contemplation in terms of whether or not you feel comfortable divulging that information. If you are an open book (pun intended), then go for it! If there is, perhaps, a child or adult in the family who thinks that he or she is a blood relative, then your autobiography may not be the best time to throw caution to the wind.
At the same token, don’t leave out anything interesting. When people pick this up, you want them to WANT to read it. No one is going to continue reading a story that doesn’t hook them. Including details and following somewhat of a timeline is great, but you don’t want to bore your reader. Really open yourself up and give an emotional description of how you met the love of your life, recant that embarrassing moment in high school, talk about your home life (both the good and the bad), and most importantly, be you. Try your best to find your voice and let the reader feel as though he or she is listening to YOU tell the story.
Look Through Old Photos
Ahhh… the days of yore, life was simpler back then, wasn’t it? At least, it felt that way. Maybe it’s more that we were just oblivious when we were younger. Either way, dedicate some time to looking through old photos, and you’ll find yourself immediately inspired. They are sure to trigger emotions in all types of ways and hopefully give you all of the feels you need to get you started on your journey!
Talk with Family Members
Maybe you remember the very first house you lived in as though you walked out of it yesterday, but if you’re like most people and moved out when you were quite young, the memories may be a little fuzzy. This is when writing an autobiography can really spawn some amazing additional memories because if you choose to reach out to family members to get their take on things, you will end up having conversations you would have never otherwise had. Not only will you be able to get a clearer picture of how things looked, felt, smelled, etc., but you will also bond with whomever you decide to go to for these valuable chats. Talk about a win, win!