book reviews · Freelance Writing

Write Your Life Story – A Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Tips on How to Get Published from The Learning Series by Nancy Smith (Book Review)

If you’ve been following this blog for the last few months, you know I began writing my life story. Well, my life story so far, anyway. It seems simple enough, doesn’t it? We know ourselves, we know our stories, and we know the chronological technical details. But, somehow, when you sit down to write it…well, I don’t know about you, but that’s when I get hit with Imposter Syndrome.

Who am I to write about my life? What have I done that readers will want to read? So, though I began to write my life story, I was delighted to come across this book in the largest used bookstore in Vermont. Think 100,000 and counting used books, not new.

Write Your Life Story by Nancy Smith offers examples and insightful details to help you write your life story like, well, like an actual story. Why and how to use narrative to fill in the details, how to outline your life so it flows – but that you are not limited to strict chronological imaginings.

In my own writing, I was delighted to find I had gravitated to some of her suggestions naturally. But, other points, like how to fill in details you don’t remember all that well, and that a bit of poetic license is allowed was an eye-opening breath of fresh air.

This book has become a standard reference on my desk as I refer to it time and again. Index cards line my walls and on the back of the tail end of Christmas wrapping paper, I’ve mapped an outline of life events. It’s rather exciting to remember where and who you were at certain points in your life and reflect how it shaped and molded you into yourself today.

Wherever you are in your life story, this is one to add to your reference shelf.

Checkov once said that the essence of good style is simplicity. The best piece of advice, therefore, is to keep your writing simple. That isn’t to say you should invariably use short sentences, short words and never introduce colorful imagery. On the contrary, if you are to make your life story a ‘good read,’ you should aim for variety – variety of texture and structure.

~ Section One, ‘Finding Your Voice’, pg. 44

Though I am not the only one to have been shaped by illness, it is my reactions and decisions which have risen from it, I now realize are what makes me the best person to write my life story.

However, another benefit which has come of the reading, is that I now have a best practices map to use when I write Life Histories for family, friends, and clients.

Whether you want to leave or create a legacy memorial through a Life History or Biography of a family member, need some help organizing your thoughts into a readable format, or would just rather be interviewed and have someone else take over the writing, well…Write Your Life Story can show you how. Or reach out to someone who’s been there, in the thick of it, and does it day in and day out.

Every year, holidays, birthdays, and occassions approach giving us ample opportunity to celebrate those we love. The desire to know and understand our roots increases year over year. And while I rarely, if ever, do this in a book review and or blog post, please know that if you need assistance, I am an avid genealogical researcher and ghostwriter.

If you need help writing your family history, your biography, or you own life story, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email at to discuss your project or schedule a call.

If you’d like to post a review of a book during one of our Book Review Weeks, get in touch for more information.

Have you ever thought about writing a book? At Writing in the Fast Lane we focus on ghostwriting and book reviews – take a look around our website for details.

As much as I’d love you to connect with me via social media – you can find all the ones I’m on in the bar to your right – I’d much prefer a review of my book currently available on Amazon, “Reflections: The Girl in the Mirror & The Letter”. Currently, it’s got one lonely review. And for less than a cup of coffee, it sure could use a friend or two or ten…. Oh, and we’re on Goodreads too!

Break a Pencil!

© Lisa Street Rogers 2018

One thought on “Write Your Life Story – A Guide to Writing Your Autobiography and Tips on How to Get Published from The Learning Series by Nancy Smith (Book Review)

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