University of Nevada, Reno




Why Write: Self-Discovery


Discovering new interestsWriting about our lives makes us think about events in a new light and can be therapeutic.


In interviews people who have attended the autobiography workshops, they talk about improved self-esteem and interesting reconnections with social networks. Many describe gaining insight on the value of their life within the context of their family structure. While many claimed at the start of the workshops that their lives "aren't anything important," most report enthusiastic reactions from family, especially grandchildren and friends, to what they write. They also see how they fit, what they contribute, in a process that one participant compared to the holiday classic movie, “It's a Wonderful Life.”


The potential effect can be seen in the experience of one participant who had lost her husband and her father in the previous year and was thinking of moving.


“I went from my father’s house to my husband’s house,” she said. “I never found myself.” She rediscovered some of her own interests as she explored her childhood, before she had responsibilities. As a result, she took archery classes and a road trip to Red Rock Canyon. “What is my fear? I just write it down, acknowledge it, and conquer it,” she said. “That has helped me a lot. It’s easy. Pencil, paper, you write it down. If you don’t like it, you wad it up and throw it away.” She says she now has a new sense of herself. “I’m expanding my horizons, depending on myself more. I’m not waiting on my sons to take care of me. “

Link to fact sheet, Autobiography: Starting the Process

Here is a worksheet to help you get started.

(Best if printed on 11x17 paper and folded)