How Not To Write An Autobiography

English Essay #15

Mark Twain is most famous for the classic novels that he wrote, and for the humor that was a part of his writing style. He struggled to write his autobiography though. It stands out form other such autobiographies because of how disjointed and unorganized it is. Mark Twain’s autobiography is not much more than a collection of well written and completely random short stories about his life. He tells stories that don’t matter to most readers and completely leaves out things that have historical significance. like the outbreak of the Civil War and how it effected him and others. It is enjoyable to read the individual stories but they don’t flow together very well.

We can still learn from Mark Twain’s book though. There is a lot that we can learn from his mistakes. In order to write a more organized autobiography, you need to decide what the main thing is you want to get across? Is it a struggle you had and how you overcame it, is it the story of how you became successful or talented at something, or is it simply about how certain key events in your life shaped you? There are many themes or stories that your autobiography can be about, and it is o.k. to have a secondary theme, but you need to know what your main goal is.

After you know what you want to accomplish, it is time to take the step that Twain struggled with, organization. It is easier to organize after you know what you want to say. You just need to pick the stories and events from your live that support or give insight into your main theme. Once you have your chore  stories, organize them in order and write based on that basic outline. This way of writing will keep it from being so disorganized.

What we learn from Mark Twain is simple, organization is very important. While reading his book is enjoyable, you don’t get any “big picture” and if he had anything that he wanted to get across to the reader, besides his personality, he failed. I don’t think that Mark Twain had any particular moral or story that he wanted to tell, which is a big reason why he found it so difficult to write his autobiography. If you ever write an autobiography, or any book, make sure that you have a plan before you go for it.


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