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The First 4 Steps to Writing Your Life Story

There are dozens of reasons to start writing your biography. You might wish to share your experiences with friends and family, publish a memoir for the general public to read, or preserve the heritage of your family for future generations. You might even find the process therapeutic!Your life story is unique, and there are plenty of reasons to want to record it in writing. But… how do you go about actually doing that?

When you first think about writing your life story, it can feel like a daunting job. How will you turn a life full of thoughts, memories, connections, and events into a paper and ink book? Here’s a simple, four-step approach that should help get you started on the road to a personal biography that you can be proud of…

1. Decide to write your life story

When setting out on any big project, it’s easy to let doubts get in the way. In the case of writing your biography, for example, you might find yourself wondering if it’s really worthwhile. After all, aren’t memoirs really only for celebrities? Who will want to read the story of your life?

These worries are understandable, but shouldn’t hold you back. Your story is certainly worth telling! After all, many of the most fascinating stories are found in the most unassuming places. As for who will read your story… you might be surprised at just how interesting and important your memories are to your children, grandchildren, friends, and family.

And, for that matter, you might also be surprised by just how important writing your biography is to you.

The first step to getting your biography written is to conquer your doubts, decide that you will write your biography, and start taking action. Need a little more inspiration to do just that? Take a look at our blog post Four Inspirational Reasons to Write Your Biography.

2. Gather information

A memoir is a true life story. It’s told from your perspective, and composed from your memories, thoughts, opinions, and feelings. That’s not to say, however, that it can’t be bolstered with information from other sources. These can be anything from photographs, diaries and journals, to conversations with the people closest to your life.

Your friends and family are a good place to start. Tell them that you’re writing your biography, and ask them about key life events. You may be stunned by the insight which they have into your life, and which events they remember even more clearly than you do. Better yet, some of your relations might be able to provide you with diaries, photo albums, or other materials to jog your memory.

3. Plan your story

There’s more than one way to tell your story. A good biography isn’t just a list of memories from your oldest to your most recent. Instead, your memoirs should be selective, focusing on a theme that runs throughout your life, or picking a number of notable anecdotes to build your story around.

Of course, it’s up to you to decide what that theme or those anecdotes will be! Should you focus on your friends and family? The things you’ve achieved? Places you’ve been and people you’ve met? Trying to cram everything in is a recipe for disaster, so focus on getting what matters the most to you down on paper.

It can be helpful to make a list of all the anecdotes and points of interest that you’d like to include. Once you have them all in front of you, you can begin to shuffle, edit, and prioritise. You might end up picking one incident (such as a trip to a single country) to represent a whole swathe of time in your life (such as a round-the-world trip).

4. Write

Once you’ve decided to write your life story, gathered information about your history, and made a plan, there’s only one thing left to do: write! Whether you’re a seasoned scribbler or you’ve never put pen to paper before, there are a few things to keep in mind as you finally start writing your biography.

Writing a book is a big job, so don’t rush it! Do try to be consistent, though. It’s a good idea to work on writing your biography a little each day. By making it a regular habit like this you’ll keep your biography fresh in your mind, and start to build up your word count faster than you might think.

Don’t be afraid to rewrite! Your story doesn’t have to be perfect the first time around, so don’t let worries about whether the finished thing will be any good stop you from writing it in the first place. It’s much easier to edit something that’s been written than to write fresh, so focus on putting your thoughts on paper, and worry about tidying up your work later on!

And when it does come to editing and polishing your work, your friends and family are once again extremely valuable. Consider asking someone who knows you well to read your draft and tell you what they think. As well as picking out typos and stray commas, they might also be able to tell you what memories need more detail, or what anecdotes they'd like to hear more of.

Of course, not everyone enjoys writing. If you find it difficult to get your memories in order, you might want to consider working with StoryTerrace. Our experienced ghost writers and editorial team can handle the planning, writing, and printing of your biography for you from start to finish.

Final Thoughts…

Congratulations! You’re well on your way to having written your life story. But the journey doesn’t end once your manuscript is complete. As you approach that final chapter, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to do when your masterpiece is complete.

Will you offer a copy to a local bookshop? Give out copies to your friends and family? Keep a volume safe for children, grandchildren, and future generations? Share your biography with colleagues and other people in your field? It’s your life story, so it’s up to you what you do next.

Are you ready to take that first step? Want to learn more about writing your biography? Story Terrace are here to help. Get in touch for a free consultation, or sign up for our newsletter for more inspiring stories and useful advice.

Written by Krishan Coupland
Image credits: by David Iskander

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