Autobiography is a story based on your own life. It might be from birth to your present years, or it could be just a fraction of your lifetime, an incident that you believe is very important, significant and interesting to your readers.
For example, a muslim girl who is fighting for the rights of women in education has a very interesting story (Malala Yousafzai), and it could start from her early years, how she was brought up, what made her so open minded, etc.
I recently met a lady who has been a cancer survivor: she got deeply into spiritual and esoteric experiences that completely transformed her life, as well as her descending health. Isn’t it a great story to be told? Of course it is, but for this particular situation, we would just need to focus on how she got the Cancer, why she had this disease, what she did while being not well, and what happened to her in order to get well.
So, if you have a story to tell, a story inspired from your own life, then, do so. People need to read it, need to hear about it. Because personal stories, real situations, Autobiographies are a great inspiration to all of us, who might face same situations. We might have relatives who are like you. Real stories are inspirational, they motivate us, and they bring out the best of ourselves.
“Yes”, you might think, “but how do we go for it? How is it possible to write down experiences of a lifetime in just 3 days?”
It is not that difficult, I can assure you.
But let’s agree on some fundamentals first and foremost:
- Your story should not be spread out thin: You cannot write all the bits and pieces of your entire life. I should admit that. If you don’t know how to start, probably you are not as experienced as Victor Hugo, or Isabel Alliente; Authors who have brilliantly written in a book stories of three generations. Choose for your first Autobiography (you might write one more in the future, why not?) to be focused on one or three important incidents the most. For example, you might have been a single mom as well as a struggling dreamer, who finally managed to become one of the richest bestselling authors of our times ( K. Rowling). In this case, you describe all the struggles and suffering, till you succeed in printing the book, promoting it, selling it, and finally turning it into an 8 series Hollywood movie with millions of funs all around the globe. You wouldn’t stick in childhood situations that are irrelevant to the actual story. Ok, maybe I have frightened you. You don’t need to be Malala Yousafzai or J.K.Rowling to have an interesting story to tell. You know that. Fighting for your rights to keep your kids, having experiences of homelessness, surviving from drugs, trying to fit in a new world while coming from another country, achieving to stand against school bullying, witnessing the progress of a brilliant mind – student of yours – while being a teacher, remembering your ancestors’ stories when they were still slaves or they were treated with extreme racism, are all incredibly interesting autobiographies or biographies. And they should be told. But here is my point, and here is where I want you to focus:
Find what is the point of your story, why you are telling the story, how will your audience benefit by learning about it – and stick on the important moments and incidents. Don’t spread the story all around; don’t spread yourself and your story line thin.
- Be honest. It might feel painful, or frightening, but while expressing your own story you have to be 100% transparent and honest. Most people would never ever dare to write an autobiography, because they feel uneasy to expose themselves in such an extend and in front of so many people. What you want to do is really brave, and I want to congratulate you on behalf. But if you find yourself in difficulty to even start your writing, then, obviously, you feel uneasy: how much should you or could you get exposed? Let me be honest here: the more transparent you are, the more brilliant your book will be. Say out loud all the things that other people would hide and you will be a bestseller overnight. Because what you will say, is what most people hide even from themselves. And they will relate to you. They will relate with your experiences, and they will admire your honesty. And most importantly, you will inspire your audience to lead a better life, to avoid doing your own mistakes, or to act towards their own greatness that can be achieved.
There are two reasons why someone who writes an autobiography would feel uneasy to be totally honest:
- They might feel ashamed for some incidents in their lives, either what has happened to them, or what they have done to others.
- They might feel uneasy to “brag” about great accomplishments, because of modesty issues.
Either way, here is a tip you may follow: Do this and you will write anything that comes to your mind without hesitation. Promise to yourself that no one will see your manuscript if you do not want to. Sit down and write whatever is needed to be written, and feel safe, that for now, you are the only person who sees it. After you have finished your first draft, you will come back and you will have the right to edit it, if you choose to. But before you completely finish the first draft, do not sensor a single thing.
- Decide that you will sit down and write it. All you need is 3 separate days of 8 hours each. Uninterrupted 8 hours. I know what you will say : “I have kids, I have a job, I have responsibilities, I can’t do that”. I am sorry to inform you, but I don’t believe you. If you had the flu, and you had to stay on bed because of high fever, would the world collapse? Of course not! So, why would it collapse now that all you want is to write your autobiography? Those 3 days do not have to be on queue, one day after the other. Preferably, it could be one day per week. You may wake up really early one day (4:30 am) and ask for a day off from your office. I don’t know, find a way. It is your life, you are suppose to lead it. You are suppose to act towards your dreams. I don’t bellieve that a person who is so brave to write their own autobiography are afraid to invest for themselves just 8 hours of a day… I am sure you can find a way.
It is now, or never. I don’t believe in future plans.
As long as you came up to here, and you found this article, and you took the time to read it (6x A4 Pages, hello?), it seems obvious that you want to write your story… NOW. So do it. Do it now. Take out your organizer or calendar, mark three different days, and stay on the plan.
Now that we made those three important things clear, are you ready? Let’s go for it!
Writing your Autobiography: Day 1
- Write an outline of all the things you want to talk about: There are two ways to do so
- You may write ideas on cards: write on top of each card a memory that you want to describe. Do not be confused with the time frame; write whatever comes to your mind, first thing on top of each card. Then, take each card and write beneath the title in bulletin points what is important about it, how do you feel about it, what your readers want to feel or think, bits and pieces of the incident that you don’t want to forget to mention.
- You may also use Microsoft Word or Google Documents (that is my own choice) and use the marvelous bulletin tools that those programs have. Write down randomly what you remember and you want to describe, and then, underneath each “title” write in bulletin points what you would write on the cards: how do you feel about it, what you want your readers to think and feel, bits and pieces you don’t want to forget to mention.
- Check your outline, add things that you have forgotten to mention, edit it:
- First of all, check what is missing. Most probably you have forgotten something. Take some more time to fill the outline with more details and more incidents, but don’t overdo it with descriptions. It needs to remain an outline. You are not writing your book right now. So don’t let yourself jump into the writing process yet. Not today.
- Change position to the cards or paragraphs, in such a way that they make more sense. The order must change, but it hasn’t got to be in the right chronological order. If you are familiar with flashbacks and you love this style of writing, then chronological order is totally irrelevant. What is really important is that each “scene” of the drama should move forward the story, the information. It should build up and provide progress and suspense at the same time. It is also important to have the crescendo of the action near the end, and not in the beginning. Common sense.
- Then, check everything once again: add more characters, remember the surrounding, the stage, the time of the day, the atmosphere. Remember; add the details in a simple way, not in a descriptive literature style. Otherwise, it won’t be an outline, it will be a half made book. For now, you only want an outline.
- Now you are done with it. Leave it, forget about it. Enjoy your life till the next time you have arranged to sit and write the entire story. If in the meantime you remember something and you want to add it, do so. It is ok to add some things. But don’t be obsessed with it, the most important things are already written on your outline. Trust the process.
Day 2: Writing your Autobiography, from start to finish.
Are you excited? Today you will write your entire autobiography, in just one day. Yes, you heard me correctly. In just one day. But you need at least 8 uninterrupted hours. Do you think you are worth of 8 uninterrupted hours? Just for this time, just once? If yes, then go for it. If no, then, I cannot guarantee for the results. At least, break it into two days of 4 uninterrupted hours… But I can’t stress enough how important is to sit and work without interruptions. I can’t stress that enough.
So, the first thing you need to do, is calm down, prepare for yourself a hot cup of coffee or tea (whatever you enjoy more) sit comfortably in front of your computer, have your outline handy in front of you.
Now you will read your outline, you will remember what you wanted to talk about, and you will start speaking. You will speak out loud all the things that you wanted to express, all the feelings, the ideas, the situations. You will not write a word, you will only speak, as if you were speaking to a good friend, or as if you were speaking to God Himself. While you will be speaking, your wording will be instantly transcribed on document, as if you had the greatest and fastest typist next to you. How will you do that? Open Google-documents. https://docs.google.com/document create a new document and name it “My Autobiography1”. I won’t go into details on that; the hall point is to use an incredible tool Google documents have which transcribes even my own strong Greek accent into perfectly spelled English words!!! Here is a very good tutorial you may follow to see exactly how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQueGjqeDB0
3 hours of uninterrupted talking – slow talking – is about 60 pages A5 – 11points Helvetica text. 3 hours of uninterrupted slow talking is a 60 pages Amazon Kindle eBook. 6 hours of transcribed speech is around 120 pages, and so on. If you stick with the plan, today, your book will be almost ready. At least, the first draft will be written, finished and spellchecked perfectly well. So, do you think it can be done? Have I convinced you that writing your own autobiography is not just doable but it is something really easy to be done?
Ok, back to Google documents. Google keeps on saving your document, so you shouldn’t have issues on this part. Finally, make sure your document is perfectly saved, copy it all, add it on a word document as well – for backup- and close your computer. We are done for today.
Day 3: Edit the manuscript – finish the book
Now you have a draft manuscript. You need to edit it. Maybe some words have not been transcribed well, maybe you forgot to add some things and you want to write a couple more paragraphs here and there… maybe the description of the setting or the explanation of your feelings are not very colorful and you want to add some literature style writing. I haven’t heard your manuscript while you were talking-writing it, so I can’t tell you what it needs. It has though to feel as a real book and not as a “mumble talking” with slang wording. You get the point. Today, you will edit your transcribed manuscript in such a way that it can be read as a real book.
Then, what you need to do is write an epilogue. After you have read the entire book, here is what you should expect from your epilogue:
- It expresses the point you wanted to make by writing the entire book, your entire story.
- It is simple, direct and to the point.
- It expresses and sums up the message that your readers will keep in their hearts after closing the book and putting it aside.
Lastly, you will take some time to write your introduction. That is crucial. Do not dare to write your introduction before your entire book – with the epilogue included – is finished. Well, ok, there are exceptions, and it is ok if you feel in great inspiration to write the introduction earlier, but I would not recommend it, and here is why:
- Most times, you don’t know what to write as an introduction, because you haven’t got a clue how the finished manuscript will look like. Obviously, you haven’t written it yet, so, how could you know? But the hall point of the introduction is to prepare the reader on what they should expect from the entire book… if you start writing your introduction without having the entire book done, it is a lost battle before it ever starts…
- On the other hand, if you finally write the introduction, you will be restricted on what you write for the rest of the book. Whatever you write, will sound a little off, or even worse, irrelevant to what the intro was promising.
Have I made my point? Don’t write your introduction, until you have finished the entire book…
… And then, decide for your title. Yes. The title is the very last piece of the puzzle. It is like the cherry on the icing of the cake… can you put it on the top before the entire cake and decoration is finished? Of course not. The title sums up the entire idea of the book, the feeling of it, the essence of your writings. How can you know what all this is before you see it finished? You can’t.
Finalizing your Autobiography and publishing it on Amazon Kindle.
You are done, and congratulations… or have you not? You haven’t published your book yet, that is another story. But I won’t leave you without some recommendations on this subject:
- Give your book for proofreading. You might not want to give it to a professional editor, you might want it to stay exactly as you wrote it, and this is perfectly understood. But you will need to give it to someone else to proofread it. There are typos and grammatical mistakes, probably too long sentences etc. You know what you wanted to say, you have everything within you already. So, there are things that you will miss, and that is for sure. Proofreading should not cost too much, go to fiverr.com or to www.peopleperhour.com and work with someone who is well rated and provides the best price possible.
- Create a stunning book cover. Make sure that your cover can be easily read in thumbnail size. On Amazon most times buyers see only the thumbnail image, and they need to be attracted instantly without hesitating in trying to figure out what those small letters of a title are. Go to canva.com to create your cover, and if you need wonderful royalty-free images for free, go and download pictures from www.pixabay.com
- Turn your word document into a mobi file, and then upload it to Amazon KDP. There are numerous of tutorials on how to do that, here are some suggested videos:
To sum up, In order to write and publish your own autobiography within just three days you need to invest 8 uninterrupted hours for 3 days.
- On the first day you will create the entire outline, either on cards or in your computer with a word documents style program.
- Next day you will follow your outline, and you will “speak” your book while having Google documents transcribing it instantly.
- On the third day you will edit your transcription, you will write your epilogue and you will also write the introduction… lastly you will decide for your book’s title.
In order to turn the manuscript into a proper kindle eBook, you will need to give it for professional proofreading, and then you will follow the instructions of the above YouTube videos, in order upload it properly on Amazon. Oh, and don’t forget; create a stunning cover that will be visible and appealing enough, even in thumbnail size.
Congratulations, you are now, officially, an Author!
Here are some of my own Books: Written by Vassia Sarri…