Have you heard that quote from Ernest Hemingway?
To paraphrase, Hemingway said that there’s nothing to writing, other than sitting at a keyboard to bleed.
Good writing, the kind that connects with the reader, requires brutal, painful honesty. The type that isn’t easy. The kind of honesty that takes serious levels of courage.
And what’s the most courageous writing of all? Writing your life story.
It’s natural if you feel scared or hesitant to write it down. After all, there’s nothing more painful than opening your heart and soul to the world.
But you should.
Why? Your story is unique and deserves to be told.
Here are some reasons to overcome your fear and put your life’s journey down on paper.
People Respond To Honesty
Are you a little sick and tired of the glossy way that people present themselves these days?
The filtered Instagram pictures. The curated snapshots of their perfect lives. The need to be validated through social media likes.
The best memoirs and autobiographies are an antidote to this trend. They present a warts and all, unfiltered, unrestrained look at a person’s true self.
If you’re thinking about releasing your own life story, you might be scared to share the gory details. You might worry that doing so will repel readers.
In fact, it’s the brutal honesty that will draw people in and keep them reading. We live in such a worryingly fake time that unvarnished truth is a potent antidote. People respond well to it.
You Don’t Have To Share It All
While every part of your life story that you choose to share should be brutally honest, it doesn’t mean you have to divulge everything you’ve ever been through.
You might want to opt for a memoir rather than an autobiography, allowing you the freedom to focus on a particular theme or era from your life.
Even if you do decide to write an autobiography, the choice of events featured is yours and yours alone.
If something is too painful to write, leave it out. Worried that someone in your life wouldn’t want to be written about? Respect their privacy and create an anonymized version. You can even combine several people into a composite, using character trait techniques to decide how to portray them.
There are probably parts of your life you won’t want to put out there. That’s OK. It’s your life story to tell as you wish.
You Can Profoundly Inspire Your Readers
Perhaps above all, as writers, what we want is to make an impact. To leave a mark, To make people stop and think.
Autobiographies are one of the best ways to do this. History has countless examples of autobiographies that have affected people’s lives.
Malcolm X’s autobiography profoundly shaped attitudes to race and justice among many of its readers. Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk To Freedom’ continues to be a source of inspiration for those who read it.
You don’t have to be a famous figure to inspire people through your life story. You just have to be your authentic self. Show the challenges you have faced and the experiences you have been through. That’s enough to inspire and move the people who read your book.
Ready To Tell Your Tale?
Hopefully, you now feel better about the prospect of putting your life story down in black and white.
Even if you end up writing it for your eyes only, that’s absolutely fine. It can be a cathartic and clarifying experience to evaluate the events of your life. In fact, it should be one of your major writing goals.
One of the best ways to add rich detail to your life story is to trigger as many memories as possible. Try and find old journals, listen to old songs, and even visit places you used to live.
Doing this will transport you back in time and help you make your life story as full and frank as possible.
Ready to start? Good. Writing the story of your life might be the most profound thing you ever do.