Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How Do I Write My Autobiography, or How to Start a Book

‪We had an excellent question come in from a member of the Facebook How to Publish Your Book Group:

"‬I need help writing an autobiography if anyone can help I would to make it my #1 goal in 2017"

Great question and one that many people struggle with and ask about all the time. My advice is to just start writing. I am not an educated writing person. I learned to write at 53 after struggling with being dyslexic my entire life. I had no understanding of how to write, but what I did was to just start and push myself and I just worked at it for years until one day I punch through and then words came pouring out and haven't really stopped

What Kind of Book Are You Writing
Here are a couple of thoughts. What kind of autobiography are you writing. Are you trying to tell a universal story through your own life journey or are you just passing on what your life was more or less to your children and family. On day one I did this and day two I did that.

I have an older friend who is currently writing his autobiography and he sent the first rough draft to me a couple of days ago. He is writing his story for his daughter. It is a wonderful gift that he is doing. It is rough but all the basic facts are there. When I was struggling with my writing one technique I used to free me up was to write my book to my sister as a letter. In fact I started off with saying Dear Katherine, and then I began. It takes some of the pressure off. Write to a specific person, tell them your story.

Top Ten Technique
Another technique I use with many people is my Top Ten Technique. Write down the most asked question you get, one sentence. Then the second most asked question till you have 10 or so questions. These become your chapters. Then write one paragraph for each question and then four or 5 paragraphs for each and you then have a book. You can also dictate the story. Many smart phones have voice transcriptions on them, they work great. This is a great thing to do in your car. You are quiet and alone. Then email the text to yourself.

The key here is to not go to far on any one question because you will burn out, but to write all the chapters all at the same level. What you write in chapter 6 will effect what you write in chapter 1 if it isn't to finished. For you I would make those questions, major points or milestones in your life. What is your number one defining event or moment in your life, then the number two and go from there. Remember you don't have to start at birth. In fact I wouldn't start at birth, that is kind of dull you haven't done anything yet, start with the big one, whatever that is. What defines you. It is probably not a job but is a moment of some growth or decision, then you can go forward and back to other defining moments. Your big moment will most likely be of more interest to your readers also. Then fill in the edges

You could sit down and take 12 post-it-notes and put down 12 defining moments, move them around until they make a story and then fill in the holes. Don't feel you have to get all of this at once, the story will evolve. You will get your voice as you move forward. Don't feel you have to have answers to every part of the story. Don't worry that you don't know where to go, just keep going and it will happen.


I have flushed out my Top Ten Technique in a longer post with more details. Click here to read about my 10 Steps to Write and Publish Your Book

One of the things that really really helped me was to publish my writing. I did this on blogs that I set up. I used Google blogger for most of this because it is so easy. This website is a Google Blogger Account, if you have an email address you actually have a Blogger Account. But one of the hardest things people writing struggle with is hitting the Publish button after they have written something. Is the text good enough? Am I saying the right thing? It needs to be edited. I am scared what people will think? There are a million reasons but a magical and trans-formative thing happens when you push the publish button and send it out to the world. On the other side of hitting the publish button you know what to say. Clarity comes and trans-formations comes and then you can move forward. With blogs as with word processing you can change the words and fix it. Nothing is permanent, you can remove it or update it. I am not saying your have to write your book in public but you do have to put the words down somewhere. This is just one technique that helped me. And remember to have an editor review what you have written when you are finished. It will improve what your wrote a lot. We don't have to do these things all our selves. That was a big moment for me when I realized I could have someone fix what I wrote. I don't have to be perfect.

I encourage you to start, I have seen people's lives change sometimes right in front of me from releasing and publishing their words. At the moment you have a barrier sitting in front of you that is stopping you, you have an entire life, how do I get a handle on it. Think baby steps, think telling your story small and then expand. Just Say Yes, sit down and start to write your story, it can be crappy, it can be wrong, it can be painful, it can be joyous but I guarantee it will be trans formative and your life will change because you are starting the journey. Thank you for asking and for trusting and we will be looking forward to hearing about your journey.


Resources
Steven Pressfield has an outstanding blog and books on writing, http://www.stevenpressfield.com/
Also check out the beginning of my Resource Page, http://brucethebookguy.blogspot.com/p/resources.html for a list of excellent books to get your started

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