Share the process
Speaking with other writers, photographers and artists is important to my creative practice. This includes both telling people about my projects and ideas and listening to their projects and ideas.
I've lived in various places, worked at a variety of jobs, and studied a different universities.
In every place, when I say I'm a writer, someone says something along the lines of - they are working on a novel or have a close friend or relative who writes. The same goes for other creative interests. At times, I find out that people are artists in the first meeting and others after several meetings.
I've told various people about this experience. One person's response surprised me. He asked if I found this irritating or a source of competition that so many people wanted to write. The answer is I feel the exact opposite.
Meeting and talking to other writers makes me feel part of something bigger. Each writers has something to teach me and some have learned things from me. This is one of the reasons I always look for a writers' group wherever I live. If there isn't one, I start one.
That being said, I do feel a little jealous when someone gets published, wins a prize, etc. However, this jealousy is tempered by pride, excitement, and joy that someone is succeeding. It also encourages me to send out another poem or short story. It reminds me that if they can get published, so can I.
Many of the people in my writing community aren't geographically near to me anymore, but we still try to keep in touch. We cheer each other on in our successes and buoy each other in our struggles. We give feedback on each other's writing and learn from each other. Being in a writing community, helps me identify my mistakes and learn new tricks to hone my craft.
While writing or other creative communities don't replace the need for solitary writing, it gives a sense of belonging, encouragement and accountability. I encourage every writer to meet and befriend other writers.
I use the same basic principals with photography. I haven't started a photography group yet, but I enjoy hanging out with other photographers and learning from them. Sometimes we take photos of the same things and other times our interests are very different, but being around other people who are engaged in the same art form is a wonderful way to learn.