12 Feb Your memoir. To write or ghostwrite, that is the question.
Writing an autobiography on your own seems like the right thing to do, doesn’t it? It’s what put the auto into autobiography and the auth into authentic and author. You made the story, you know the truth, so write it yourself. With a path and structure in place, and an interview to get into the detail of your life, why do you need a ghostwriter?
Well, there are one or two reasons for hiring the help and we’ll take a look at those later, but we think the reasons to write under your own steam far outweigh the reasons not to. The obvious one is that hiring a ghostwriter is an expensive business and don’t think for one minute you can rest on your laurels once the interview is done, you will be fact-checking many times over things you’d get right if you wrote it firsthand. However, if you’re on a deadline or other commitments take up most of your time, hiring someone to help you will depressurise your situation.
Consider also how you feel about sharing the intimacies of your life with a comparative stranger. If you have tough or deeply personal things to write about, wouldn’t you rather do it in private? Many people write their memoirs for their own benefit with no intention of sharing those stories until after they die, and perhaps not even then. You might feel self-conscious and skip those intimacies, missing out on the introspective and therapeutic effects of writing about your life.
Most importantly, your story will be in someone else’s words and not your own. Although ghostwriters do their best to write in their client’s language they are interpreters.
You can write, you just don’t know it yet.
Your biggest hurdle won’t be putting the words together, it will be finishing them. If you hire a ghostwriter you will have someone nipping at your heels to keep your project moving along. That can be a good and bad thing, bad if you feel rushed and pressured but good if you need the supervision.
A ghostwriter may save you more time than writing your story on your own but perhaps the best solution is to start small. Commit to a memoir and not a full autobiography. Write about your childhood first. Your childhood is a book in itself.
If you want to do the full story in one go and don’t trust your self-discipline then hire a writer. Don’t hire someone to write it for you because you think you can’t write. You can, and your story deserves no less an author than the inimitable you.
Bank vault or bookshelf?
Where do you want your story to end up?
If you’re writing purely for your own benefit, friends, family, or future generations then they will have a massive appreciation for your self-written story. If you aim to sell your story then you should still attempt to write it yourself but perhaps enlist the help of an editor to review it before you publish. Otherwise, hire a professional writer or think about collaborating.
You will know other people who want to write about their lives, so why not share the experience with someone you know well; like a lifelong friend, brother or sister? You can jointly write a single account based on both lives or get your collaborator to contribute in their own words the occasional memory of a shared experience.
Husband and wife team Sis Cunningham and Gordon Friesen co-authored Red Dust and Broadsides: A Joint Autobiography, writing alternate chapters about their childhoods until their stories converge. They also included transcripts from interviews they did together. Muhammad Ali did the same in his autobiography with conversations he recorded with Joe Frazier and his ex-wife. And Keith Richards included written contributions from friends in his book, Life.
Alternatively, write your stories independently but share your ideas and the proofreading and editing duties. You’ll be surprised at how well this can work.
To write or ghostwrite? The conclusion.
For the sheer pleasure and pain, authenticity and satisfaction write your own life story. Living it has been your most fulfilling experience and writing about it will come a close second.
Why not give it a try now? You can trial any Johnnybio chapter free, Child and Teenager, Adult Life which is geared towards your twenties and thirties, Mid Life about your forties and fifties, and Sixty Up. The path you’ll follow takes you from chapter creation to finished memoir in 8-steps. With structure and formatting taken care of, the interview about your chosen era combined with your own memories and photos will give you all the material you need to write your story.
Writing your story online means you can make changes, add to it, and publish new versions at will. Your autobiography will live alongside you for as long as you want it to. With Johnnybio you can even choose to release your work to people you nominate after your death.
However, if we failed to persuade you and you’d like some help, please get in touch.