After half a lifetime of writing alone – as a reporter, as a freelancer, as an aspiring novelist – I stumbled into a Wild Writing class led by the incredible Laurie Wagner.

What a revelation! Those two hours transformed my approach to writing and established my commitment to a private writing practice.

I’d been stubborn in believing that writing alone is the only way forward. Picture yourself (in a black-and-white photo) posed with a Royal typewriter, your shirt-sleeves rolled up and a cigarette dangling from your lip, and you’ll understand what I mean.

It was a lucky accident that I attended Laurie’s session. I thought I knew better.

The experience was similar to (but more startling than) my first encounter with group exercise. I’d been a lone wolf when it came to staying fit. I ran alone. I swam alone. But after reluctantly agreeing to attend a Nia class at the JCC, I discovered I’d been wrong. The workout at dance or step or strength or spin class is so much better and it’s a balance to my solo workouts.

Here’s a list (created in classic blurt-it-out Laurie Wagner style) of reasons to write in community:

  • Makes you actually sit down and write.
  • You realize you’re not so bad!
  • Pushes you to stretch.
  • Reminds you that everybody has something important to say: Even you!
  • Breaks through resistance and writer’s block.
  • New ideas will jump up and bite you (in a good way).
  • Feels like play. Feels like flow.
  • It strengthens your solitary practice.
  • Places you in a circle of talented writers and peers.

If you’re feeling unproductive, or stuck, or simply don’t know how to begin, find a class or a writer’s group. Contact me if you’d like suggestions, or look online. There are plenty of options. And for an introduction to writing in community, you can’t do much better than this weekend workshop at the end of March: Letting Spring Flowers Bloom.

I lead writing and mindfulness workshops throughout the Bay Area and beyond. My approach is adaptable in many settings — from helping groups honor an important life event to assisting a business team in articulating a shared vision. Contact me to learn more. For information on my San Francisco real estate practice, visit RealEstateTherapy.org or CynthiaCummins.com.