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How to Write Your Own Life Story: The Classic Guide for the Nonprofessional Writer Fourth Edition, Fourth edition Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1556523182
ISBN-10: 1556523181
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Frequently Bought Together

  • How to Write Your Own Life Story: The Classic Guide for the Nonprofessional Writer
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  • Legacy : A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Personal History
Total price: $25.00
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“An inspiration and a practical guide to writing your autobiography.” —KLIATT


“Leads you through the process of story creation for nonprofessionals in a way that is easy and fun.” —Women’s Words
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press; Fourth Edition, Fourth edition edition (August 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556523181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556523182
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
More than seven years ago I decided to get some folks together to write our life stories. I haunted bookstores looking for the ideal book, and when I came across Lois Daniel's book, I knew it was the right one. That was her Third Edition. The updated Fourth Edition presents the same material, plus a couple of extra chapters.
The book has been ideal for our purpose. Lois Daniel's approach to writing about your life is to suggest that you write in bits and pieces, rather than starting with your birth and what I call "plowing through your life" from birth to the present day. That can be a chore for many; whereas writing about interesting incidents becomes an enjoyable challenge.
Grandma Moses, in her autobiography, wrote, "I have written my life in small sketches, a little today, a little yesterday, all the things from childhood on through the years, good ones and unpleasant ones, that is how they come out and that is how we have to take them."
That is the approach suggested by Lois Daniel. And the author makes it easy for persons who shy away because, they say, "I'm no writer." She suggests that you need not be a "writer", but merely to "write as you talk."
Our weekly class is now entering its eighth year, with 43 participants, both women and men. Since the class started, the members have purchased between 250 and 300 of her books, and, without exception, they are pleased. They find the book to be interesting, while at the same time it provides many suggestions and examples to motivate the writer.
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I have taught memoir courses from this book, so examined most others in the field of writing one's own life story. This was the first, and I think, the best. Author makes the task manageable with "get started" topics that trigger memories, inspiring samples from her real-life writing classes, and helpful tips. Perfect if you have an elderly parent or grand- who should record his/her life for family archives...or if you want to do it yourself.
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I am teaching a life history class for the first time and am using Lois Daniel's book as part of my curriculum. I like the fact that she breaks down the book into categories and reminds you that you do not have to write in chronological order or even whole categories at once. She is informal and supportive, gives many writing examples and even has a section about do's and don'ts. She also does not restrict her teachings to only older individuals, but encourages younger people to begin their stories as well. Her categories are rather broad and so I am using this book in conjunction with "Legacy" by Linda Spence, which has individuals put down their story in the form of answers to questions. Between both books I feel I now have a good handle on not only teaching my class, but also starting my own life story for my child.
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Using the method of writing bits and pieces as you remember them rather than chronologically, the author gently encourages you to write your story whether you believe you are a writer or not.
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Lois Daniel taught classes specifically dealing with writing memoirs, and life stories, not only to older generations, but to younger ones as well. As a young adult, I found this book to be helpful with gathering thoughts/memories and piecing them together. This is a great book to start anyone off with, if they want to write an autobiography or memoir. Hopefully within the next few years, I'll be publishing my :crosses fingers: BEST SELLING autobiography. We'll see though!

-Jerri L. Butler
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This extremely informative book gave me a pattern to use, when writing my story. I never realized how many places that I had seen and how many exiting things I had done until the whole story began to unravel on paper, right before my eyes ! Try it ! It's great !
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This book has some useful information regarding topics to include in an autobiography, however it is very dated. I believe the first publication date of this book was 1980 and although this is its fourth edition, published in 1997, I believe it would be more helpful if it was revised again. For instance, the author spends considerable time writing about using the library for research and there's barely a mention of using the internet for research.

The majority of the book includes examples of pieces of life stories that others have written. While somewhat helpful, I felt that there was more of that than what I personally needed. Also, I found it disturbing to read her own personal story and thoughts about "Negroes." Didn't we stop calling African Americans "Negroes" by 1980?

Although this book might be an aide for many others, I'm thinking that I'll find more helpful and useful information on the internet.
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Format: Paperback
My only "issue" with this book is that it wasn't what I was looking for. BUT, it may be just what you need! The author provides an encouraging step-by-step process to take you from being overwhelmed to being expressed. The meat of the book is in the explanation of the writing process; the remainder of the book is anecdotal, sharing from other autobiographies.
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