Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Easy Way To Write Your Bio

"I started making music in 2002..." 
"I grew up in South London..." 
"I'm best known for working with so and so..."

It's really hard to write your artist bio, and sometimes it's even harder to find someone who can write it for you. Sitting there staring at a blank screen can even make you question whether you've actually done anything worth writing about, which doesn't exactly inspire you to start.

Last week I came across a really simple way of attacking the bio problem when helping a friend, and that was to stop thinking about it as a biography.

At the top of the page, start with "Once Upon A Time", and begin with how your parents met. Imagine you're writing the story of your family, with you as the lead character. It should be easy to read for almost anyone over the age of 12, and it should make sense without boring them. Try to write quickly and in a continuous flow (I turn off the internet and write in all caps, then change to the correct case at the end). Read it back to yourself aloud, though you may want to pick another voice - I made up a cheesy African American 70s award show host called Bill.

Once you have finished your story, go back and edit. Get rid of "Once Upon A Time" of course, and then delete anything that is irrelevant or boring - you should be able to get the whole thing down to three or four paragraphs. A good bio should make people feel they almost know you and want to ask you questions - if you give every single detail what is there to ask? The hardest thing is knowing what to leave out, so keep imagining someone reading it who has never heard of you and comes from another country (that should also help you remove overly presumptuous statements - "in 2004 she worked with all of Kiddlington's greats - The Badlights, Emma Hope & co..." Huh?)

Try to avoid the usual pitfalls; don't start every paragraph with your name, keep lists of people you've worked with or places you've been as short as possible, don't fixate on boring technical details, and don't write in the first person "then I did this, then I did that". Most importantly, don't tell yourself you can't do it before you start.

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