How To Write Your Life Story
Updated: May 8
Have you often wondered if you have a story worth telling? Or asked yourself who would want to read an account of your life story? Perhaps you built a successful business or have created a legacy that you wish to share with others to educate them with your experience, but you feel time poor or self-conscious about disclosing personal details of your life?
This article will help you begin to write the untold story within you.
One way to start putting your legacy down on the page is to do it yourself. Yes, it’s definitely possible if you make the time to commit to the process.
Here are some steps to get things going:
Step one: If you haven’t already, read an autobiography to get a sense of how someone would write their life story or the kinds of things they write about.
Step two: Ask yourself who you want to write the book for. Is it for you, primarily, or for your friends and family – or for the public at large? Determine if the book is going to be based on your professional or personal life or a combination of the two. Is it a book you wish to get published/self-publish to educate, entertain, and inspire a wider audience? If so, write a list of benefits readers can expect to get from the book. If it’s a keepsake for family and friends, then the list may not be necessary.
Step three: Start by creating a simple plan that you know, without doubt, you could commit to. Outline milestones or key moments in your life to use as potential chapters. Flip through a few different autobiographies already published to examine their structure and table of contents for ideas about your own outline. Use pictures to prompt memories and feelings – flip through old photo albums and other keepsakes to unlock the details of your past (including, perhaps, pictures saved on social media, if your story is a more recent one). Write these significant memories down as prompts for when you are recording your story.
Next, write a declaration to yourself that you will keep the commitment to write your story. If you break one of the promises in that declaration – say, your schedule is interrupted by work or family matters – endeavour to make up the time as soon as possible.
Finally, join a writing group – the peer support can help keep you accountable and on track to finishing your book project.
Step four: Start recording your life. Choose a spot at home or office where you can set yourself up to feel inspired to write. Decide how long you can write for without being distracted and make that time your minimum. Set aside at least one day a week and a specific time to work on your story. Block out that time on your calendar.
Before you begin, setting a timer or alarm for the length of time you have elected to write for may help with self-discipline. Or perhaps a daily word count goal will work better. If you achieve your word count goal on that day or reach the time set aside to write but are on a roll, don’t stop! Make the most of your inspiration then and there.
Experiment with both of these strategies to get you started and review your progress along the way. (You will likely find that you naturally come to a point when you are ready to stop writing, regardless.)
Start your story in chronological order of events or begin with where you are currently on your life journey and connect the dots of your experience backwards.
Type or voice record your work. If you choose to record your sessions and don’t have time to transcribe the material, there are people who can do this for you professionally.
When you have finished a first or second draft, ask a trusted friend to read your story to provide guidance, support, and honest feedback. (Be prepared to hear both the good and the bad! But don’t forget that you are in control of your work and are free to take as much time as you like to get it reading ‘just right’.)
If you are considering self-publishing your book, hire an editor/proof-reader to review your story and work with you on developing it.
Remember: You don’t have to be a writer to tell your story. Just start writing. You are not required to produce a perfect first draft – just get it all down on paper. Record your story and then focus on the editing and structure once you finish capturing the details.
Another way to capture your life story is by hiring a biography writer to work with you. This will suit people who simply do not have the time to commit to their book project, or who prefer the guidance of an expert. A person who is skilled in this area should be able to help you chart the trajectory of your life in an efficient, creative, and professional manner.
A biography writer will basically guide and structure the whole end-to-end process, with you making the final decision about the content of the book. They will help you set a deadline and stick to it. In most cases, they will skype/zoom or come to you to record your reminiscences.
The biographer will:
Discuss the key points of your life to outline and structure the manuscript
Record your sessions
Guide you through the telling of your story during each session with prompts and questions along the way
Transcribe all the recordings
Structure and edit the book.
If you hire a biography writer who is skilled in ghost-writing, they will also ensure your story flows smoothly from chapter to chapter. This type of approach is often used by entrepreneurs or other professionals who are either time-poor or who are not confident in their own abilities to do their story justice by writing it themselves. Ghostwriters are often uncredited contributors.
They will also:
Work closely with you on the edits and help fill in any gaps in your story
Liaise with the printing company on the pagination of the book if you choose to have your manuscript published in a physical form
Collaborate with you until you are both satisfied with the outcome of the writing project.
Overall, the process of hiring a biography writer is to make your life easier while providing you with the opportunity to finally tell your story.
Whether the book is for your family and loved ones, or you are writing about being the leading expert in your industry and you wish to educate and be a mentor for others, start recording your story – now. Remember: Once you have written your story, you have the choice on what you decide to do with it. Will it be a family heirloom, or something you will share with reading public as a whole? The decision is yours.
Above all, you can be proud of the fact that you now have a personal record of your life which will be treasured for generations to come.
For more information about how to write YOUR story, contact me today.