Autobiographies are testaments to lives lived extraordinarily, and if you believe your story needs to be told, why not? But there are other important considerations to make. A story must be credible and should add value to people’s lives for them to be interested in it. No one wants to listen to the story of someone’s life if they don’t learn something from it, if it doesn’t interest them or if they don’t take away something new from it. Here’s a list of questions you need to ask yourself before writing an autobiography.
Questions You Need To Ask Yourself Before Writing An Autobiography
Why am I telling my story?
The first thing to consider while writing an autobiography is why you are even writing it. Does this desire come from a place of honesty and genuineness and authenticity? Or are you doing it because you think you can capitalize on an underdog story, or you can earn money by evoking sympathy? As the great German poet Rilke said, you must write only because a deep impulse within bids you to write and you cannot live without writing. If that isn’t the case, you are being untrue to your craft. Your story must come from within and you must have integrity towards it – only then will it be impactful.
Is it inspiring?
Memoirs should stay true to the story of a person’s life, but they should also emphasize positive and inspirational aspects of the story. When people read your story, they shouldn’t leave feeling hopeless or purposeless. Instead, a good autobiography stirs people by motivating them and inspiring them in some way. Maybe it could inspire them to achieve a goal, or to be grateful for something, or to create something, or to tell someone they love them. Either way, a good autobiography inspires people, even though it may have parts that seem despondent or terribly hopeless.
What will people take away from my journey?
The autobiography is an instrument for change. Since it is a true story, people take it even more seriously. This means that what you write can have real implications. So you need to add value to people’s life. Your autobiography cannot be a series of random, disconnected or haphazard events – it should drive a point home. There should be some form of end message that people take with them. Or, it should have some value, knowledge, skill, or anything additive that they take away from your journey. An autobiography is an invitation to live vicariously, and this living should be fruitful and meaningful.
Am I a good narrator?
Very often the difference between a good autobiography and a bad autobiography, both having inspiring content, is the way content is presented. An autobiography cannot be a detached piece of work, it should be lively, personal and intimate. You should tell your story with passion, authenticity, love, intimacy and also a lot of entertainment. Whether you tell your story in a sentimental or humororus way, it should draw readers in and keep them rooted to their spots with the urgency of storytelling.
Is it going to create a legacy for future generations?
Finally, the autobiography serves a function bigger than the author. It immortalizes a certain perspective on time and space. Basically, it freezes, like a photograph, a moment in history and records it for future generations. Not only is it a valuable clue for future historians but also is a revelation of a zeitgeist. Think of the importance of Black slave autobiographies, or the diary of Anne Frank during the holocaust, or the memoirs of freedom fighters during the Indian independence movement. Your autobiography, should likewise, leave a legacy behind.