The best way to start an autobiography is to compile lists of accomplishments and important events in the writer's life. Once the lists are compiled, the writer has two jobs. First, he must compile documentation for official events, like births, marriages and educational achievements, to ensure his memories are accurate. Second, he must organize his list into a coherent story.

An autobiography is, in essence, the story of a life. There are several methods for organizing the autobiography, with the most common being episodic and sequential. This autobiographical form separates different periods of the writer's life for treatment, with chapters or sections covering such elements as childhood, education and military service in chronological order. After organizing the story, the writer must determine what kind of voice to use. Narrative is simple and professional, telling the story as it happened, but can be a little cold. A less-formal and more emotional tone is commonly used for intimate autobiographies.

In most cases, autobiographies are written by people who have made such significant contributions to an industry or to history that an audience has a compelling desire to read it. They may also be written as a form of family history, although more often family history autobiographies are written more as experiential memoirs.