Keeping that brain limber and loose!
When I had Alex Shakar as an English teacher he used to tell me of his days as a copywriter for a mammoth ad agency. He told me that while he worked that job, his creative side withered away, until ultimately he just had to quit the corporate world and go back to the world of academia where he could do post-graduate work and focus entirely on his writing again.
It's because of those words, spoken to me many years ago in a 200 level creative writing class many years ago, that I have insisted on doing some writing that is just for me, every single day. In some ways I'm luckier than Alex was. I have a job writing for an independent agency that I love, and am surrounded by intelligent, fun, open people. I know what kind of agency Alex probably worked at back in the day, and the place I'm at is nothing like it. At the same time my days are spent crafting words for other people. It's challenging and rewarding work. However I suspect that the fact that, though the years, day in and day out, the fact that I have always carved out a little "me" writing time has probably both made me a better and more valuable writer in my 9-to-5 while keeping me from feeling like the day job takes up all my creative energy.
Some people bemoan the "everyone's a writer since everyone has a blog" mentality -- and it's not surprising these folks also tend to from from a slightly different generation of professional writer types -- but I think that the fact so many people are encouraged to write and pursue a creative outlet (often with a supportive audience!) is creating a more balanced, happier crew of people in the workplace.
What do you think?