How to Write your Autobiography: Step by Step Guide

By Mary Smith. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Write your Autobiography: Step by Step Guide

An autobiography is the story of your life as written by you. There are very few people who know you as well as you do, so writing an autobiography is the best way to make yourself known in your own terms. This is a snapshot of your experiences, a detailed account of your achievements and failures recorded on paper so that others can read it at a later date.

However, an autobiography is not the same thing as a memoir; a memoir focuses on a particular aspect or event in your life, while an autobiography gives a chronological overview. If you're interested in this idea, here at OneHowTo we'll show you how to write an autobiography with a step by step guide.

Steps to follow:

In order to write your autobiography, the most important thing is to become very familiar with autobiographies as a genre. Most of us learn by example and practice rather than by learning theory by heart. This is why we recommend that you start by reading the autobiographies of authors, celebrities or historical characters you most admire.

It's also a good idea to read biographies, that is, life stories written by someone else. By doing this, you'll be able to see how professional writers use this literary genre, from which you can borrow ideas for your own work. Take a look at how they start, how they move from one event to another, what vocabulary and techniques they use, and how they get the mood to shift even when describing real events.


Before sitting down and starting to write, it is crucial to know what sort of information you can include in an autobiography. In general, all kinds of information from your life which you consider relevant - from a family, personal, academic, or aspirational perspective - are usually accepted. Since it's your story, you get to decide what's important. However, if the events you describe include other people, it's polite to ask them before sharing them and exposing things that they might want to keep private.

When a reader picks up an autobiography, it's assumed that the events described within are real. However, we all know that one's own perspective distorts reality, and that we all have different interpretations of shared experiences. Therefore, you can give your version of events. You don't need to back up everything with external sources as a historian would, but it's very important not to lie.


Writing an autobiography is much more than creating a chronological account of your life- anyone could do that with the right information. It is much more interesting to develop a theme and offer some introspection and original thoughts.

Instead of writing a linear narrative of your most important life events, you can review your life story and extract a major theme that will serve as the backbone of your autobiography. You just have to think about what is most important to you, such as your professional career or love life. By doing this, you'll manage to hook the reader with a story.


It's time to write your first draft. Here you will establish the general idea of the autobiography by setting the time span that you wish to cover and incorporating the first sketches of important events. You don't have to fill everything in; build an outline. If you hadn't found a major theme, it will probably be clear now.


After this first draft, you should try to add more specific details about your life. It's time to select the stories that you want people to know about you, and those that you don't. You should note them down in this draft, which will later serve as a guide to write the autobiography.


Once you've created the bare bones of your autobiography, you've arrived at the final stage - the time to start writing it for real. You should follow the narrative established in the draft version one by one, including the events added afterwards. However, you'll do it in a more detailed and literary way.

Don't be afraid to experiment with language and form, and make sure you fill the context with personal details. When you talk about a personal event that happened in a particular year, what was on the news? How did your hometown change as you grew up? This way the readers will feel they know the world you're talking about.

Now that you know how to write your autobiography with this step by step guide, don't hesitate to share your life experience. It'll be unforgettable.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Write your Autobiography: Step by Step Guide, we recommend you visit our Crafts & leisure category.

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1 comment
John Wright
can I mention people that are alive today
OneHowTo Editor
Hi John,

Of course you can mention them. However, you can't write anything provably false as they may legally challenge you for libel. Also, if there is anything incriminating, be aware this could lead to repercussions. Finally, you will need to think about how writing about them may affect your personal relationship toward them.
How to Write your Autobiography: Step by Step Guide
How to Write your Autobiography: Step by Step Guide

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