When I talk to my students about how to write a bio, they groan. Everyone hates writing bios. But if you’re going somewhere in your life, at some point, you will need that bio. Really, you can do this. Even though folks find the process intimidating, my basic how-to’s can help you out.
In my writing classes, the first assignment is often a bio. Students struggle because a) they worry about sounding like show-offs, b) they have nothing worth saying, c) they dread coming off as boring, or d) all of the above.
The truth is, the issue of how to write a bio depends on one thing: Remember to be your natural, wonderful self. In other words, be real. If you stay genuine in word and tone, the bio will be terrific.
Once you’ve figured out how to write a bio, how will you use it?
- When you write articles or guest blog posts, publications and websites usually run a blurb about you at the end of the piece.
- You’ll definitely need a bio for that day when you’re being introduced during an event, speaking engagement or performance. An emcee might read your bio out loud or organizers might print it in the program.
- A bio is also essential for networking websites like LinkedIn.
- You’ll also need an author’s bio for that book you’ll write someday. :)
Trying to be clever is very stressful. So forget about that.
Just relax. The goal is to write in a way that’s simple, clear and informative. Remind yourself that this particular bio is just for now. You might change it again tomorrow or in a year. The bio changes as you grow.
Begin by taking stock of your life and jotting down the following:
- Your full name
- Where you were born, where you live or have lived
- Education — where you went, dates of attendance and graduation
- Employment — where you work or have worked
- Awards and other accomplishments
- Decide if your age is relevant
- Hobbies and passions add a human touch
- Organizations you have joined in the past or belong to now
Once you have these essentials down, start prioritizing. There might be facts that you want to keep private. Or maybe, you feel they’re not relevant to your basic bio. It’s time to pick and choose.
Next, decide what kind of bio you’re writing.
Three types of bios
What kind of bio do you need? When we think about how to write a bio, we have multi-task. Most people have several different bios. It all depends on the occasion.
1. Super-simple: The bio blurb is just a paragraph or two. Keep it brief. For instance, check out my about me page. At the end of the long-ish bio, you’ll find a short-ish blurb.
2. Going deep: The comprehensive bio is the other extreme. For a look at this type of bio, go to the encyclopedia website Wikipedia and search for someone important and/or famous. These Wikpedia entries are usually loooong and detailed.
3. One size fits all: The typical bio is a summary. This bio is fairly short and concise. It highlights information you consider important.
Show your personality & vision
You might know Steve Martin as a Hollywood actor who starred in a bunch of comedies. But he’s also a writer. In 2010, he published a novel, An Object of Beauty, and wanted it to be taken seriously. So on the flap inside of the book jacket, he included a very serious bio:
Steve Martin is a legendary writer, actor, and performer. His film credits include “Father of the Bride,” “Parenthood,” “The Spanish Prisoner,” and “Bringing Down the House” as well as “Roxanne,” “L.A. Story,” and “Bowfinger,” for which he also wrote the screenplays. He has won an Emmy for his television writing and Grammy awards both for his comedy albums and his work on the banjo. In addition to a play, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” he has written a bestselling collection of comic pieces, “Pure Drivel;” a bestselling novella, “Shopgirl,” which was adapted into a movie; and a children’s book, “Late for School.” Martin’s pieces appear frequently in The New Yorker and the New York Times. His album, “The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo,” won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album in 2010.
Notice that he omitted personal information. He wants us to view him as an intellectual and fancy artiste.
The result is that Steve Martin’s bio is rather stuffy and dull. That’s fine, though, because it suits his goals. He’s not going for laughs here.
But let’s say I needed a short summary about Steve Martin for some sort of piece I’m writing. Let’s also say that it has to be 100 words or less. Right now, his bio is already 134 words and only covers career highlights. How am I going to create a fuller picture of Steve Martin without going over my 100-word count?
To create the revised bio, I pulled in stuff about his personal life, cut out some work details and sequenced the information differently:
Hollywood funny man Steve Martin, 69, is best known for box office hits like “Father of the Bride,” “Parenthood” and “Roxanne.” He is also an award-winning writer and musician with an Emmy for television writing and Grammy awards for both his comedy albums and an album about the banjo. His books include “Shopgirl,” which was adapted into a movie. His articles have appeared in The New Yorker and the New York Times. The Texas native grew up in in California, where he attended UCLA but never graduated. He and his wife, Anne Stringfield, are parents of a two-year-old child.
Beware of Wikipedia
The additional information in my revised Steve Martin bio pulls stuff from his Wikipedia entry. But be warned — Wikipedia is a great reference but it gets things wrong. So if I was really going to use this revised Steve Martin bio for something, I would double check all the details for accuracy.
I also wanted my Steve Martin bio to be more reader-friendly. For that, I needed what’s called a conversational tone — a tone that sounds like I’m in a conversation with my readers and not talking AT them. Short sentences feel conversational. But the real test of conversationality? For that, I had to read the rewritten bio out loud several times. Whenever I stumbled over a sentence, I knew it needed tweaking. I kept tweaking until I felt like I was talking his bio rather than reading it.
You need bios of different lengths. Having different bios is like having different outfits to wear for different occasions. Thanks to advice from Joan Stewart, an online publicity coach who specializes in working with authors and writers, I’ve just re-done the about me section on this blog.
You’ll find four versions of my bio, all on one page. They range from a two-liner that is 27 words long to a short bio (59 words), medium bio (76 words) and long bio (286 words). The reason? When the media calls asking for an interview or someone wants me to give a talk somewhere, the first thing people ask for is a bio.
If it’s a radio show and there’s only two seconds to describe who I am, they’ll use the two-liner. If there’s more room, they will take one of the longer bios.
Enjoy being yourself. On Twitter, bestselling author Veronica Roth of Divergent fame describes herself this way:
I wrote some books with titles that end in -gent. Okay, technically, one ends in -giant, but in my American Midwesterner accent it sounds the same.
Veronica Roth made a tradeoff. She opted for being cute rather than supplying conventional facts. You decide if her approach works for you.
The point is, when you’re deciding on how to write a bio, keep in mind the purpose, the audience and your mission. Choose your tone and prioritize your facts accordingly. You have options:
- You might need something formal for a formal event.
- A light, funny throwaway bio can intrigue readers.
- In between those two extremes, anything goes.
Want more help? I can coach you, for free.
Note added Feb. 1, 2017: I hear you. And I feel your pain. This is why I’m creating a free book with step-by-step instructions on how to write a bio. You can refer to it over and over. You will need it. Successful people need multiple bios, often at the same time. To get this free book when it’s ready, subscribe to my blog and warm up to your writing and storytelling process. You might not love every blog post, but I’ll deliver enough to keep you thinking about who you are and how to tell your story. xo
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The main question of all students who have to write a reflective or personal essay is whether it is possible to come up with such type of academic paper without sounding too egotistical. From one side, it might seem that there is nothing easier than writing about yourself. From time to time, even personal essays should stick to specific rules. For instance, the writing style is an obligatory condition.
In this article, I will try to reveal the basics of writing an essay about yourself so that you may use these tips in your academic life.
Tricks and Tips on How to Write a Personal Essay
We have gathered several life hints that can help every student to prepare for writing an essay on yourself. First of all, you should try to focus on your personal life experience. People would like to learn about the things you have gone through instead of some imaginative things.
Second, you should describe an experience which is related to your education. Describing your first wedding ceremony or gig with the music band is not the best idea. It is better to dedicate time to the things you've learned from school, college, or other educational institutions. If you have a specific person who inspired you to enter target college or work in the certain field, reflect this role model.
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Even though the essay about you should be focused on your name and deeds, do not start writing with the trivial phrases introducing yourself. It is still better to put an intriguing question which requires an answer in the end or begin with an interesting fact/quote/joke.
Third, let your family read the final draft once you are finished with your writing. Sometimes, you know yourself worse than people around you so that you can trust them.
Finally, try to avoid sensitive subjects like:
- Political situation
- Race and nationality
- Income level
How Do You Start an Essay about Yourself
As a rule, an essay about yourself contains up to 400 words. Although you can think that there is no specific topic for such type of paper, sometimes tutors assign particular subjects to discuss.
For example, you may be asked to write where you picture yourself in five or more years. It is your chance to prove that high school or even college education is not enough.
You should start telling personal things. However, use the great words you know to explain why you deserve the place in the target educational institution or company. Avoid making up a story; you should be as sincere as possible. Come up with the story describing the challenges you faced as a surgeon's assistant. Tell about the personal struggles you have gone through to accomplish your internship as a bank cashier. Provide the background of your sports achievements.
However, whatever you decide to recall, make sure it has a connection with your future profession. You can include an interesting part related to your hobbies, but don't go much into details.
On the whole, make sure to highlight your:
- Educational background
- Work background
- Skills and knowledge
- Life goals
For the affordable price, you can get an eye-catching introduction of any reflective essay.
10 Simple Tips on How to Write a Personal Essay
- Choosing the best topic
Go to the section with great topic ideas to discover new and time-tested examples.
- Formatting your paper
When writing an essay on yourself, you don't need to add abstract or reference page. The structure of personal statement is much easier. At the same time, you have to mind your:
- Its size
In other words, a paper dedicated to your life should look accurate and structured.
- Manage your time
Any academic paper has a deadline. A paper describing yourself has a strict deadline as well. It is better to start writing as soon as you are assigned the task. Thus, you will have more time to proofread and edit your draft. By the way, you should involve several drafts.
- Get your family involved
No, I am not telling you to use your family members as writing guides or something. It is better to get professional writing assistance from the corresponding service. I mean that recalling the stories related to your family or personal experience is a good way to appeal to the heart of your readers. You may share a story of your family member who used to cope with the serious disease. When you work on the paper about yourself, it is important to stay sincere and honest. So, if you have some really good life stories to share, feel free to do it.
- Find inspiration
If you have no idea what an essay depicting your person should include, you may get inspired by another person. It's okay if you don't have a rich experience or amazing story to share with your audience. Find people who were once students like you or describe the fate of your friends. You may also find ideas from the:
- Internet blogs
- Social networks
Find more inspiration after reading these ways to make your college essay great!
- Focus on the needs of university
If you are writing a paper about yourself as a part of your admission, describe your personal skills and university goals equally. Give them an overall idea of what you can do well, and describe how you can contribute your knowledge to the prosperity of that particular college or university. In order to sound less egotistical in the essay about yourself, please look through this advice.
- Avoid using complex words
Don't type the words you don't know - your Word will most probably fix all your grammar mistakes, but you need to know what every word means when you use it in the essay about yourself. Choose synonyms to make your text richer, but replace difficult terms with simpler words.
- It's all about great introduction
Forget about general phrases like "My name is..." or "Everybody loves.." When you compose an essay about your life, you don't have to sound trivial. Use statistics and interesting facts to begin your paper. Various quotations might also work. It's just important to choose citations that are related to your story somehow. You may read more about composing powerful introduction and other parts of this article.
- Keep away from sensitive subjects
Writing a paper that reflects yourself should not hurt the feelings of other students, tutors, or people around. The worst topics you might find for your personal paper involve gender, racial, political, and religious issues. It is recommended to make your essay more positive even if you prefer to recall a hard time of your life.
- Always revise the paper and double-check the grammar
A finished draft is only half the battle. Download grammar checker or use online checkers to have a text free of grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors. You should also get anti-plagiarism software to find out whether your content is 100% original.
College Essay Examples about Yourself
We have discussed so far how to start a essay about yourself and the overall structure recommendations. Here we go with the top topic ideas for the personal essay. If you want to avoid difficult argumentative essay topics, you may find some great ideas on this blog. Choose one of them:
- My early days at school
- How I survived my college years
- My first work experience
- Looking through the mirror
- How my friends influenced my interests
- The art of telling lies
- Learning English (a good topic for international students)
- The impact of my brother on my life
You can search for more topic examples as well as personal essay samples here.
One more thing: in case you still have some doubts regarding the quality of your paper, you may contact a professional online writing service and order a full job written from scratch.
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