If you’ve missed the latest blog posts from Jo Parfitt’s writer’s workshop in Tuscany, here’s a quick summary of what she and the rest of the group have been up to…

DAY 1: Jo and the group, which includes “a famous screenwriter with his own Wikipedia page”, meet at The Watermill at Posara. Over a lunch of red, white and green pasta (of course!), the group gets to know each other.

Writes Jo: “Everyone is here with a common goal – to write about their lives in a compelling way. For one the objective is simply to show her children and grandchildren what really went on during her unhappy marriage. For another, it’s to fulfill a lifelong dream now that she’s been retired for one whole month. Most of my students have lived or do live overseas, from growing up in South Africa and Malaysia, to spending decades in Brussels, Paris and Naples.  Most recognise they have stories to tell (in spades). All are here to find out how to do just that.”

DAY 2: Jo is given a tour of the Watermill grounds and ponders where to hold the first workshop. “Imagine the surreal luxury of having to choose whether to conduct my lessons on the vine terrace, on the lawn, in the ‘festa’ ground, by the sluice or at what Marion now calls Inspiration Corner?” she writes. Eventually the group decides to head down to the market and then work under the trees nearby.

DAY 3: Jo introduces her writing students to four of her favourite writing techniques/practices:

Julia Cameron’s ‘paying attention’ and ‘taking an artist’s date’ (The Artist’s Way), Natalie Goldberg’s ‘speedwriting’ (Writing Down the Bones) and Anne Lamott’s ‘shitty first draft’ (Bird by Bird).

“I believe that it is better to have written something that can
be polished later than to have written nothing at all.”
– Jo Parfitt, at her writing workshop, The Watermill, Tuscany 

DAY 4: The students are tasked with noticing things and writing about a character of their choice. Jo tells us about some of the students’ writing and concludes: “…while we never set foot outside the village yesterday we all travelled the world, thanks to nothing more than pens, paper and a bit of imagination.”

DAY 5/6: “Today was the day that the writing went up a gear,” writes Jo. Today’s workshop reveals any personal stories and there’s are some tears and laughs aplenty.

Jo’s books on writing include Write Your Life StoriesDefinite Articles, and Release the Book Within.

Jo is also the author of expat novel Sunshine Soup: Nourishing the Global Soul and poetry memoir A Moving Landscape, as well as A Career in Your Suitcase and Find Your Passion. She also compiled and edited the soon to be released second edition of Forced to Fly, a humorous anthology of expat writings.



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