Essay Two: Autobiographical Essay
Due Dates:1st Draft:9/11/01
Your purpose in this essay is twofold:first to describe persons and narrate significant events in your life, and second to analyze how these experiences relate to your attitudes toward the world and how these attitudes have influence your thinking, values, and beliefs.This essay gives you the opportunity to reflect on and analyze the personal experiences that have shaped your attitudes toward yourself, your family, your community, and the world.
Your are to reflect upon your life and choose a period of time during which you experienced some type of change. The change may be either physical, emotional, spiritual, or any combination thereof; the change is not limited to these examples. The time period should be approximately a week or more (any period of time longer than); one single day does not an event make, unless the single day’s event is so dramatic that change occurs over a period of time as a result of that single day’s event.
The event may be as a result of a person’s actions or inactions, a geographical move, a tragic accident, winning the lottery, winning a sports championship, losing your best friend to cancer, etc. The possibilities are endless.
This phase in time should begin with an example of how you were before the phase began. Give the reader a good sampling of what you were like before; help the reader draw a mental image. Describe the phase in detail, but do not overwhelm your reader with irrelevant details. What was the initial "spark" that started the phase? Was it a person? An animal? An event? A non-event? Show how the phase progressed. During this, give a sampling of the change in you as it began to take place. Then show your reader the difference in you now, after the phase. Perhaps explain or comment on if this change was for the better or the worse; we are not here to judge each other, simply improve our writing. Give the phase a solid conclusion, perhaps a parable-type ending with a moral (if applicable).
Possible sources for topics include phases when you:
Played on a winning (or losing) sports team.
Were a character in a school play.
Were trying to keep a New Year’s resolution or a promise to someone.
Were recovering from a serious accident or injury.
Were experiencing spiritual growth.
Were rebelling against your parents and/or other authority.
Were influenced by a teacher, coach, or other authority figure.
Were struggling to keep up in a difficult class.
Were campaigning for an election (either yourself or another candidate).
Were adjusting to a change in your family’s situation.
Were learning to do something completely new to you (swimming, hang gliding, playing guitar, underwater basket weaving, etc).
Went to summer camp.
Were falling in (or out of) love.
Were moving to a new place (either across town or the country).
Were becoming (un)popular.
Were joining a new social or civic group.
Became a leader for the first time.
Try to choose a phase that ended some time ago instead of one that is still occurring or recently ended. This will allow you to reflect, which is important to the autobiographical phase style of writing.
Journal Exercise for Autobiograhy Assignment
List two or three phases you could write about. Be sure these are phases you went through some time ago, and that each of them lasted for more than just a couple of days. They should be times when you changed in a way that was important in your life.
Pick the one you would most like to write about. Put a star by it on the list you made. Make sure you have chosen a phase you are not still going through right now or one that only recently ended. It is difficult to reflect and see clearly when we are still involved or so close to the phase.
Write three or four sentences telling why this phase is important to you, how you changed during this phase, and why you would like to write about it.Now, below the sentences you have just written, make a list down the page of the main things that happened during the phase, from beginning to end. Don’t tell the story yet. Just list the most important parts of the story.
Under your list, write one sentence telling when your phase took place (what year, season, month for example) and where your phase happened; this may be more than one place.
Here comes the big question: of all the phases you listed back in step one, is this the one you most want to write about? If you are not sure, if you are uncomfortable with it, if it brings back too painful memories, you may wish to pick a different phase. It’s not too late to change your mind.
If you do pick a different phase, then do steps three and four above for the new phase.
Once you have chosen the phase you will write about, freewrite on this topic for 5 minutes.Freewriting is a special kind of writing that lets you use the act of writing to “discover" what you already know. It works only if you write without planning and without looking back at what you have already written. Set a specific period of time (say, five minutes) then write non-stop, without worrying about spelling or grammar. Write as fast as you can for as long as you can or until time expires. If you reach a point where you can no longer think of anything to write, simply rewrite your last word over and over again until something comes to mind. The simple plan is to keep writing, no matter what.
You will be surprised at how many ideas you can get down in five minutes.
At some point of your studies, you will be required to make aninteresting presentation about yourself and write a greatautobiography as an academic assignment. Whether you like it orfeel confused, you need to start with positive thoughts becauseyour personal story is more interesting than you may think. Forexample, if you think that your life is boring only because youlive in a farm, it may sound interesting to others who grew up ina city. How to write an autobiography essay?
In general, you can write about some unusual adventures,achievements, outstanding mistakes, or hardships. Find your ownlife story valid enough to tell others. There’s no set plan orpattern to writing your autobiography because this story can takedifferent forms. The main rule that should be followed is writingit in an entertaining and informative manner.
The main purpose of writing autobiographical essays
When writing your autobiography, defining its main purpose is oneof the first steps that should be taken. For instance, it mayserve the following purposes:
- Being elaborative and adhering to all the necessaryassignment instructions;
- Responding to a particular question or prompt through thestory that you want to present;
- Telling the audience about any impressive or important event.
Consider your audience and generate useful ideas
Once the main purpose of your autobiographical paper isdetermined, consider its targeted audience. You need tounderstand the expectations of future readers before gettingstarted and write down all relevant points. If you feel stuckwhen generating interesting ideas, there are different activitiesthat can help you, such as:
- Free writing.
Create a brief outline of your autobiography
When writing the introduction, provide readers with a short storyabout you as you engage or hook them. When writing the main body,you can discuss different topics, such as:
- School days and place of your residence;
- Aspirations and first memories;
- Vacations and friends;
- Holidays and profound events.
In the conclusions, you should include a brief summary of yourlife story and link it to the main objective of yourautobiography. Indicate this paragraph in an optimistic mannerand finish it with any important lesson learned because of yourlife experiences.
What to do before you begin
With enough brainstorming and research, anyone can submit aninteresting autobiographical paper. Ensure that your life storycontains the basic framework that all academic papers shouldhave, including:
- Introduction with a thesis;
- Body with a few paragraphs;
The basic goal that should be achieved is making yourautobiography an interesting and engaging narrative with a greattheme. Look for something that makes your personal experiencesunique and build the entire narration around that. To achievethis goal, you need to take notes and do your research.
The importance of researching your backgrounds
Just like the biographies of famous people, your autobiographicalessay should include such basic things as:
- The place and time of your birth;
- Your likes and dislikes;
- A brief overview of your personality;
- Important events that shaped your views.
The first step that should be taken is gathering more background.
Establish the main theme
After looking at your life story from the point of view of otherpeople, it becomes possible to choose the most engaging elementsfrom notes and establish the main theme of your autobiography.Think about the most interesting thing and use it for the chosentheme. Remember that just a little bit of research can turn yourlife story a part of history. In the main body, feel free toexplain how your family holiday celebrations, favorite meals, andwork habits are linked to the history of your region.
Use one day as your essay theme
Take an ordinary day in your life and use it as the main theme ofyour autobiography essays. Consider the routines followed both asan adult and as a kid because even such mundane activities ashousehold chores can turn into your source of inspiration. Forinstance, if you grew up in a farm, you’re aware of the maindifference between the smells of wheat and hay.
Use one life event as the main theme
It’s quite likely that one event make a big impact on your wholelife so that you can use it as the main theme of yourautobiographical paper. Besides, the beginning or end of life ofother people can affect your actions and thoughts for a very longtime.
Basic steps for writing a great autobiography essay
The most popular format for autobiographies is chronological,which means writing your life story in the order in whicheverything happened. Start with your family backgrounds andproceed from the time of your birth.
Make a short life of all the incidents, events, and things thatyou want to mention in your essay. Include all the importantpeople involved in your life and add more substance to this listby writing their brief descriptions. Describe all the events,people, lucky strikes, accidents, misfortunes, and occasions thatyou can remember.
Just like with other academic papers, it’s wise to write anintroductory paragraph last. This effective writing method offersa great opportunity to introduce your story in the best way andintroduce readers a well-structured and engaging autobiographyessay.
Autobiography essay writing do’s and don’ts
First, conduct your research of the important periods of yourchildhood and youth because there are some interesting eventsthat might have happened that require further checking andclarification. Although the best people to ask are your friendsand relatives, village or town people, neighbors, playmates,classmates, and others can be your great sources of informationtoo.
Make certain connections with important events that happened inthe most significant periods of your life, including differentdiscoveries and inventions during your childhood.
Things to avoid doing in your autobiography
Don’t pad your autobiography writing with any unimportant detailsbecause your life story should sound original, genuine, andinteresting to the audience. Don’t use any overly formallanguage, hackneyed phrases, and clichés.
Don’t include any embarrassing or personal details about others.Your friends and relatives have their right to know if they’rementioned in your autobiography.
Don’t neglect the statement that grammar, word choice,punctuation, and syntax are as significant for your autobiographyas for other essay types.
Common autobiography essay writing mistakes
Not allowing yourself enough time to remember all important lifeincidents and events is a common mistake when writing anautobiography essay.
Lack of enough focus is another mistake made by students.
Forgetting the significance of this writing task is one of thebiggest mistakes that can be made.
Lack of analysis is the error that should be avoided too. Yourlife story still requires some kind of reflection about how it’slinked to the surrounding environment and world.
Effective writing techniques to avoid common errors
Make a timeline of important life events, including yourchildhood years, birth, and school experiences. Take into accountall key achievements and awards to write down all the life eventsthat shaped your personality and outlook on the world.
Pick the overall focus or theme of your autobiography essaybecause simply listing different life events won’t make itinteresting to read. Consider the theme that you want to writeabout and keep this overall focus in mind while choosingimportant life events in your essay. For instance, you may focuson making the community better, volunteering, or overcomingdifficult life events.
Finally, feel free to write about your family and focus onsomething unique about your childhood or upbringing. Such thingsas a death or a divorce are difficult and emotional to writeabout, but examining these hard subjects shows readers that youare a mature person who can tackle of hardships.