How to Write Your Best Bio Ever – Part 2: Conducting the Interview

Last week you assembled all the loud and pushy facts that want to be told about who you are and what led you to where you are today. Now that you’ve set aside “just the facts, ma’am”, you’re ready for the good stuff.

Here’s part 2 of this multi-part post on how to write a bio:

Step one: grab a digital or any other recording device, or download an app to record your interview. Even in interviews with other people, subtleties missed in the moment of telling are often distinctly heard in playback. If you are playing both roles in this interview, you will definitely want to play a purely listening role after the fact. Your interview should run about an hour but can run as long as 90 minutes.

A trusted friend might play the role of interviewer, but it’s not necessary. If you find it awkward to play both roles try recording the questions first to play back while recording your responses.

These questions are designed to map out a grid to reveal what makes you tick and what is significant for others to know about you. *Important*: read each question *aloud* and give as full an answer as if you were speaking to a stranger.

1. How do you define success?
2. What was your experience at school (i.e. made friends easily, bullied, academic excellence…). How do you feel about it today?
3. What was your most significant insight, piece of knowledge or breakthrough in life? In your career (if multiple careers, one for each)?
4. How do your answers to #2 and #3 differ and how are they similar?
5. If you were *not* doing the work you do now, what work would you *choose*?
6. What impresses you most about people when you first meet them? Are these qualities you share or aspire to?
7. Describe your relationship with (or what you know about) your grandparents. How do you feel about them?
8. Which describes you*best*: pragmatist; optimist; pessimist AND (choose one): superstitious, religious, spiritual, none of the last 3.
9. Do you sleep well? If you are awake at 4 a.m., what are you usually thinking about? What do you do about it?
10. Have you ever felt afraid? What insights can you glean from any childhood fears?
11. What do or did you admire about your parents? Siblings? Children? Grandchildren?
12. What do you dislike or resent about your parents/siblings/children/grandchildren?
13. Do you recognize any similarities in yourself to answers to #11 and #12?
14. How has your career path progressed from its earliest beginnings to where it is today (max. two-word answers for each step or career change).
15. What do *you* see as your greatest strength? Greatest weakness?
16. Are any of your answers to #15 reflected in the work you do today? Would you like to make changes to your work based on those answers?
17. What *one* character trait of yours would you change? What would the second change be?
18. What would the effect (including none) of those changes be on the work you do or plan to do?
19. List in 1-word answers how you believe others see you.
20. List in 1-word answers how you would *like* others to see you.

Once you’re satisfied that your answers are complete, go back and identify any sensory details: sight, sound, touch, smell, taste. These often lead to significant insights.

Next week we’ll crack open what your answers say about how you measure and share yourself—and your work—with the world.

See you January 18 for Part 3: Defining *who you say you are* in relation to your work, your passions and your life.

4 Responses to How to Write Your Best Bio Ever – Part 2: Conducting the Interview
  1. Andrea Currie
    January 14, 2013 | 1:38 am

    Christine – You have provided the tools and the insight for writing an artist statement that resonates and really gets to the core why artistic creators do what they do. Thank you for this ‘gift.’ ~ Andrea Currie

    • Christine Cowley
      January 14, 2013 | 2:09 pm

      Thank-you for your comment, Andrea. So great to hear from artists who understand how important it is to let people know who you *really* are. Revealing ourselves is what creativity, at its core, is all about. Thanks so much for dropping by!

  2. A.K.Andrew @artyyah
    January 16, 2013 | 2:38 pm

    I found part one through your comment on Doreen’s website. I am so glad I did. I had to skip straight over here to part two. What an excellent idea – not only to self interview with a recorder, but your questions are really fantastic. My goodness – it’s almost a therapy session! I mean that in a good way. I’m a novelist, so once I hopefully get published, I know I’m going to need similar answers. But In general I think your idea of having a wealth of information on oneself to filter down to its essence, is great. Thanks so much Christine. Great to connect with another writer.

    • Christine Cowley
      January 16, 2013 | 9:03 pm

      You’ve made my day A.K.! It’s been a hard push to commit to regular blogging (because it means time away from “work”) but comments like yours confirm that it is all work–my work, which is the work of writing and reaching people and it is SO worth the effort. Doreen has been my inspiration to buckle down and be faithful to this blog. I had no idea how much I was missing! Your website looks like it’s chock full of resources for writers, so here’s a shout-out: . Well worth the visit, folks. Cheers A.K.

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