This is the third part of our serialisation of our upcoming book The Recordalife Guide to Creating Your Memoirs. Every post will be a chapter from this book, which we will make available at the end of the serialisation.
There are two aspects to structuring your activities and flowcharting that apply to a written autobiography. The first is the one chart above which reflects general steps necessary in order to prepare and write your own autobiography effectively.
The second aspect of flowcharting involves organising events in your life in such a way that information recall is not only possible, but allows you to create a timeline of events that have taken place and that you wish to discuss to potential readers.
We wish to cover the first, core steps necessary to organise your autobiography and prepare for the final steps which will be reflected later on in this guide. First things first.
With that said, let’s delve into the flowchart above and see exactly one of the best ways to begin to organize your thoughts and ideas.
Here it is encumbent upon you and your work on your memoirs to successfully organise and research all events in your life. At this stage, try to take out the emotion and focus solely on events and happenings and how these things can shape and mould future thoughts and actions, especially when targeted towards your readers (be they your friends and family or the wider public).
For example, Jo explains that the reason why she became a veterinarian was directly linked to dozens of books that he read in his childhood. He then gave examples of the kind of information that he learned at a very young age, and then offers explanations as to how this information could benefit the reader.
Record Early Childhood
Try to make detailed notes and inferences to events, anecdotes and memories that takes place in your early childhood. This is because you are telling the story in chronological order and events that take place in your childhood our formative years and have a direct impact on the kind of adult that you will become.
Remember that, initially when you are writing your memoirs, the idea is not to go in any particular direction but simply record events and happenings so that you can later compile into a focused series of events. This should all point to a variety of conclusions that will benefit the reader or your book will meet criticism and failure.
For example, our friend Jo the vet explains how reading lots of books at a young age educated her early enough about animals and their welfare so that she could become an effective vet in adult life.
Remember to be specific about points, counterpoints and the learned information that will be like nuggets of gold for your readers. The key factors involved in delivering high-quality content is to remember that you are always teaching and educating people, and then using emotion later on to fill in the gaps and create interest and desire to find out more about your life story. Never forget that you’re telling the story!
People respond well to written stories as opposed to just cold hard facts, but initially when you’re putting together the information in the flowchart above, we are simply to focus on events and happenings and a timeline (we will cover creating timelines in a later chapter).
Detail Learning Points
This now dovetails nicely into detailing learning points. As mentioned above, you are putting together an amazing story about your trials and tribulations, your successes and failures, and you must be very specific and highly detail all learning points so that people can perceive the value of the information and prose that they’re reading.
Record Adult Life Experiences
Now you’re ready to begin to detail events that have taken place from early adulthood into late adulthood. This is going to be the core content and because you took the time to thoroughly explain your childhood, moving on to recording adult life experiences should therefore be much easier.
At Recordalife, as well as offering our Memoirs to Print service that takes your text and creates our beautiful full colour hardback books, we also create Life Stories from scratch by interviewing our clients about their lives in a structured way, chapter by chapter. These includes chapters on Adult Life, but also sections, on Working Life, Marriage & Relationships, Pastimes & Hobbies, Family & Children, Retirement, and so on, If you have a particular period you want to add extra focus on, such as a time in the forces or travelling, then by all means dedicate a section, or indeed a chapter, to that.
Many people that have written autobiographies have remarked that once you get past childhood, the rest is easy. This is because we have a much more interactive role in our memories when it comes to adult life. We also have the ability to form our own knowledge and opinions based on our experiences and the kind of life that we’ve lived.
Remember that an autobiography should take someone on a journey from childhood to adulthood and, as you move through the passages of life, you should record all of the learned events and knowledge you’ve gained over the years.
This allows you to compile amazing bits of information because once you realise how beneficial this knowledge is for your reader, it simply being a matter of writing it down and relating it in a way that is enjoyable to read, eventually has emotion and goodwill as well as good learning.
The above diagram also will allow you to generate new ideas and to piece together parts of your life that were difficult for you to understand or see.
Always keep in mind that the more information you can record about your life, the easier it will be to draw conclusions and then apply those conclusions to things that people, such as your children or grandchildren, will want revealed to them.
Become Part Of A Story
Whatever story you tell, always try to tell it well and make it interesting enough for people to continue to want to turn pages. The easiest way to accomplish this is to make sure that you become part of an amazing story that is filled with knowledge and the wealth of information that can change people’s lives for the better.
Relate To Readers
This technique is often taught in public speaking and schools that teach persuasive writing. Relating to readers means that you thoroughly understand the audience that you’re going to provide your biography.
For example, Jo’s autobiography teaches people over the age of 65 how to go into business for themselves with little or no investment and how to make a fortune. In order for Joe to effectively communicate to his readers, he needs to focus on hot button issues that people over 65 are concerned with and resolve these issues in a way that makes sense to the audience and delivers the best possible information.
Always target exactly what your readers want, and if you’re not sure what that is then take the time to send out some surveys to find out their likes and dislikes, so that you can reverse engineer your story into a product that people want to consume.
So if Joe were going to do a presentation to people over the age of 65, you most likely will focus on issues that this particular group has such as health, fitness, well-being, investment strategies, living on a fixed income, etc. Always focus on what the group wants to hear.
Organise Content Correctly
Organising your content should be done in such a way that makes sense to the reader and flows like a story from beginning, middle and end.
One of the best ways to organise content correctly is to place information on a series of note cards and then organize these note cards in chronological order.
Think of writing an autobiography like creating a storyboard for a movie that you would be interested in creating. Keep sections divided based on timelines and then consider ways to match your life with the information that your readers want to see.
In our example of Jo the vet, people would be highly interested to learn the actual steps of what she did to go from having an ambition, to education and training, to her initial work experiences, to then being an expert in her field.
Give Readers What They Want
By now you should fully realise the importance of making sure your audience care reading what they are looking for and what they would like to be able to achieve after reading your autobiography. In the case of Recordalife Life Stories, which are often bought as gifts by children for their parents, they look to find out more about their parent’s early life and about the most notable and intense periods in their life, as well as, in particular, recollections of their children’s early childhood.
For example, several different versions of Marilyn Monroe’s autobiography have done very well over the years, especially those that included images and pictures that were rarely seen of the starlet.
One autobiography was put together by a photographer. Now imagine being able to offer unique and rare photographs along with additional aspects of the starlet’s life to fans that want not see photos as well as a more complete story. This would be far more effective as a marketing tool because the photographers using his skills and delivering what people wanted, more images of the starlet. We’ll look into photography in a later chapter.
Final Edits, Feedback & Publish
Once that you have your final draft of information put together and organised, is now time to go through the draft and make your final edits.
But you’re not done yet! You must now deliver the draft to people in your market and ask them to read it and give you feedback.
You should also ask them to be mostly critical about the content and to give you suggestions on how to improve the readability as well as any supporting images.
You should also get testimonials at this point from people that have pre-read your book and then you should do edits again.
Make changes that people want to see and listen to your readers because they may come up with some of the most amazing suggestions that could end up making your autobiography highly successful and potentially very lucrative.
Perhaps the last step is the most important because it requires that you get everything else ready which can include:
- The correct book cover image that has been well thought out and sent to your readers for their suggestions and approval.
- Hire a professional editor and publisher such as Recordalife using our Memoirs to Print service, to go through your memoirs and all of your notes as well as your final draft to see if they could make any other additional suggestions, layout the book in a professional format, and arrange for high quality printing.
- Consider publishing your content on Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad because you can immediately begin to make distribute it easily to your friends and family and, if you wish, sell it online easy, once everything is ready.
In Part 4 we will be looking at reflecting upon your life and how to communicate through writing techniques the essence of your story, personality and knowledge to your readers.
In the meantime, we love chatting with people about their lives, so if you have any questions or need advice, please do Contact Us for a friendly chat.
You can also see a sample Life Story chapter by clicking on the link below, to get a good idea of how your memoirs may look in a professionally-designed, edited and printed book.
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