If you happen to have led a rather interesting life or have navigated some unique challenges, your friends, family members, or colleagues may be encouraging you to write a book about your life. However intriguing a proposition this is, writing a book about your life can feel pretty daunting. We understand that you might not know where to start this process of writing your personal story.
This handy guide can help you take those first fundamental steps toward creating an amazing memoir or autobiography—or even a narrative nonfiction book. To learn how to write a book about your life, read on.
Tips on How To Write a Book About Your Life
A book project that is based on the true story of your life experiences is a very personal endeavor. Before setting out on this venture, consider your goals as an author. Do you want to inspire the reader? Inform the reader? Entertain the reader? Is this going to be a historical guide for future generations interested in learning about the past? Consider these nonfiction genres as vehicles for telling your life story, and then select the best fit:
- Memoir. A memoir usually focuses on a particular phase of your life, versus telling your entire life story.
- Autobiography. This genre includes your life history, from birth to your current age.
- Narrative nonfiction. This option allows you to tell your life story but in a semi-fictionalized manner.
Once you have chosen a genre for your book, follow these tips to get the project off the ground:
1. Start Journaling Daily
If you are a longtime fan of journaling, you probably have a wealth of material for telling your life story. The further back you started journaling, the more precise you can be in relaying the pivotal events of your life. If writing a book about your life is set as a future goal, start journaling every day to capture your thoughts and feelings, as well as any important details that will add depth to your story. Giving yourself this informal writing space will prove to be invaluable.
2. Interview Friends and Family Members
Sit down with friends and family members to brainstorm, picking their brains about which key events in your life have stood out to them. This can trigger your own memories, while also giving you some objective insights about which life events and time periods to include in the book.
3. Go Through Old Photographs
Set aside some time to rummage through old family photo albums. This process allows you to gather rich details about your past that will make your book more interesting and relatable. Looking back at your life in photos can also spark long-forgotten memories and emotions, which add even more interesting layers to the story.
4. Choose Characters
Regardless of which genre you choose as the vehicle for telling your life story, you need to identify some main characters. Include key figures who have added real meaning to the story of your life, through good times and bad. Provide detailed descriptions of these individuals, and use their unique characteristics and voice in any dialogue.
5. Pick a Point of View (POV)
When writing a book about your own life, you are pretty much limited to a first-person POV. Whether you are writing a memoir or an autobiography, chances are you will narrate the story from your personal point of view. If, however, you have embarked on a narrative nonfiction format to tell your life story, either first or third-person POV would be appropriate.
6. Define Your Theme
Simply stringing together a series of your life events will certainly not make a compelling read. At the outset, decide what the purpose is for writing your life story; what are the central message and the underlying theme you wish to convey? Once determined, you can select the life events in your personal history that align with or perpetuate that particular theme or message.
7. Choose the Format of Your Book
How you ultimately format your book depends largely on the style you have selected—memoir, autobiography, or narrative nonfiction. For example, a nonfiction narrative is probably going to be formatted like a novel, with each chapter telling the story of your life. A memoir, however, may provide more formatting options, such as creating a collection of short essays that tell your life story.
8. Outline, Outline, Outline
As with any book project, starting with an outline helps you organize your thoughts and provides a roadmap for the writing process. Start the outline by listing the major life events you want to include, and a general chronology that you can then expand on as the outline evolves over the course of the project.
9. Try Writing Sprints
If you find yourself frozen, staring mindlessly at a blank page too nervous to write, why not try doing some writing sprints? Set a timer for 20-30 minutes, pick a life event from your outline, and just type away without stopping to edit. After the timed writing period ends, take a 10-minute break and then start the next writing sprint. Writing sprints can help you jumpstart the writing process and get your creative juices flowing.
Get Expert Advice From Gatekeeper Press
If you have decided to share your life story with the world, but lack the confidence or know-how to get the project off the ground, consider partnering with the expert editing team at Gatekeeper Press. We can guide you from start to finish, helping you realize your dream of publishing a compelling book about your life. Call us today at 866-535-0913 or set up a free consultation!