Reflections on what’s possible when I stop trying to do everything alone
Over at Foster, we’re about to kick off Season 4, a month-long experience that helps writers get unstuck and publish something they’re deeply proud of. The deadline to apply is this Friday.
Last autumn, I had the uncomfortable realization that I’m nowhere as skilled an event host or facilitator as I’d like to be. I’ve spent most of my work life as an ideas guy, writing and strategizing and such. That work is second nature to me. But creating meaningful live experiences for other people is new territory, and it feels anything but natural.
That realization hit me after the second cohort of a program I ran last year called The Arena. It was an experience I craved for myself—something to help me break out of creative ruts, and continuously renew my relationship with creativity. I talk a lot about this idea of Creative Individuation, or the process of becoming more fully ourselves through our creative work. The Arena was built as a dojo for exactly that.
But frankly, my first two attempts at creating that experience for other people were underwhelming. They weren’t bad, per se. But they didn’t live up to the vision I had in my head. Part of that was my lack of skill as a host and facilitator. Another part was that I tried to be both a participant and a host at the same time. I attempted to do it all myself and ran head first into one limit after another.
For two years, Foster’s been running these experiences called Seasons. They’re kinda like a “cohort-based course,” but using that term is a bit of an injustice, because Seasons are so much more intimate and communal than any course or group coaching program I’ve ever taken online. Pretty much everyone who’s gone through one says something similar. Seasons just have a different vibe to them.
The deeper I’ve gone into Foster, the more I’ve seen how much of this is downstream of. The dude is legit a facilitation and community-weaving wizard. I used to roll my eyes when people talked about “giving their gifts” and other such language. But it’s undeniable that Dan has this gift and loves giving it, whether in Foster or elsewhere.
When I was in Brooklyn two months ago, he pulled together an intimate dinner on a whim, bringing together 7-8 people across disparate friend groups for an evening of delicious sushi and rich conversation, lit by candlelight. I’d never before witnessed such an intimate, life-giving conversation between people who’d been strangers to one another just hours before. As the evening came to an end, I was struck that there was no way in hell I’d be able to throw a dinner party like that, let alone on short notice. But for Dan, it looked so natural, intuitive, effortless. It was a bit of a lightbulb moment.
I don’t know when or if The Arena is coming back. But I do know that Foster’s Season 4 is the closest thing to it on the internet right now. It’ll be the type of experience I’ve long wanted for myself as a writer, but haven’t found anywhere else and haven’t been able to create on my own.
I also know it’ll be hosted and facilitated by homies who are far more gifted at creating deep communal magic than I am. And man, that’s so relieving. It’s slowly dawning on me that I don’t have to do it all anymore. I can give my gifts, and my teammates can give theirs. And because of that, I trust the experience we create together will be far greater than the sum of its parts, just as past Seasons have been.
Anyhow, if you’d like to do some of the best writing of your life, alongside a crew of supportive internet homies, you are hereby invited to join us.