Writing Your Life Story With Jo Parfitt

On writing your life story, tips for memoir writers.

Jo Parfitt is an author, speaker, mentor and writing teacher living in The Hague in the Netherlands. She specializes in helping people release the book within and also how to write their life story.

In this podcast you learn:

  • How Jo started in publishing with cookbooks. ‘French Tarts’ in France and then ‘Dates’ in the Middle East, as well as word processing handbooks. Then moving into journalism and finally into helping expats to write their stories. (Jo is actively looking for expat writers)
  • The importance of having a great idea and a great book title, as well as being able to market
  • Why writing life story is so important. It’s a dream of many people to write a book and leave a legacy. Older people want to leave something for their children. Younger people can also write life stories around a theme or a particular experience. We all have much to share.
  • On writing from the past and how memory can be fickle. It has to be your truth but it’s your version. You also need plot, pace, character as if it is a novel. You still need it to be a compelling story. You can have big gaps in a memoir as long as there are themes, or a thread through the story.
  • Stories must inspire, support, inform or entertain. Memoir writers need to know about fiction devices.
  • Add SPICE: specifics, place, incident, character and emotion to your story. This will make your writing more compelling.
  • On using real people in memoir. Be careful. There’s a place for honesty but you might have to fictionalize them if it is too close to home. Combine characters or change physical appearance. You can also show, don’t tell.
  • On writing about place. It’s important in a memoir as you have to set the scene so what happens makes sense. Place also helps people to empathize with you. Transport the reader to where it happened. Use all the senses. Be specific, don’t generalize. On writing travel vs memoir. Many books seem to span across the genres and end up on bookshelves in either place.
  • What is just writing for yourself and what should be published. Basically it has to be publishable and there has to be a market. Writing for therapy or self-help is entirely justified but it has to be changed into more of a story to be published. Sharing personal information also helps people connect.
  • Marketing is incredibly important if you aren’t already famous. If you want to sell books, you need to be on the internet. You have to build that presence. Your blog should be related to the subject you are marketing. We mention the Author 2.0 Blueprint available free here. Jo gives lots of ideas for blogs and books. You can take one idea and change it into multiple books and products. Example of Louise Hay.

You can find Jo and lots more information at her site JoParfitt.com and also on Twitter @joparfitt.

Jo’s online course ‘Write your life stories‘ is available here.

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. says

    hi Jo, you won’t remember me but I bought a number of “A career in your suitcase” (I paid you very late and you got rather upset) and have been passing these out to my candidates (foreigners married to Danes and wanting to be self-supporting) here. Through me, you are apparently in touch with Dagmar Fink of Worktrotters, who’s doing a wonderful job. Don’t want anything but this just to stay in touch.
    kind regards,

  2. Dania Dieujuste says

    Hi my need is Dania Dieujuste. Iam 24yrs old and I live in Windsor CT, 06095. I need someone to help me write my life story and now to start it. I taped in google and I taped my life story in a book need help and u top up on the page of google so I looked and it said u can help me right that would be nice. I hope I said that right. I hope u san help me out that would be helpful to me a lot. Thanks and hope to here from u soon. And I would love for u to tell me what I need to do to write my life story into a book. I always wanted to write a book about my life.

  3. Paul A. Jensen says

    I have tried to download your free “Blueprint” for writing a life story, however, it does not work, something missing and I cannot re-download – maybe its not free after all??


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *