I'd like to continue my new series on things I think I've learned about flourishing as a philosopher by following up on a piece of advice I received several years ago that I referenced in my previous post. The advice, which helped me at a crucial point in graduate school and has continued to help me as I've gone along, is to read widely, not just in your specialty but in different areas of philosophy. It's impossible to read everything, of course, but still, reading widely has many benefits.
First, it's enjoyable. It keeps philosophy fun, and I don't think the importance of having fun should be underestimated. I've noticed (only anecdotally, of course) that I seem to be far more productive, and do philosophy better, the more fun I'm having with it -- and for entirely unsurprising reasons: the more fun you're having at work, the easier it is to put in all the effort. The hard work no longer feels like hard work.
Second, reading widely can get one "unstuck", and lead to unexpectedly promising new projects. I spent a year or two in graduate school thinking about a single set of issues in moral philosophy, thinking to myself that they had to be the issues I should think about -- and it was only when I set them aside and started reading other stuff, in political philosophy, that I got "unstuck." Ramming one's head into a proverbial wall trying to solve a problem can result in a solution -- and so I don't mean to advocate simply abanoning things when you're stuck. The point is simply that reading widely can result in you finding better problems you can solve more quickly.
Finally, my experience is that one's mind has a funny way of solving problems in the back of your mind only once you put them away for a while. I can't tell you how many times I've moved on from stalled projects to other things, only to find the "solution" to the problem I couldn't solve pop into my head out of nowhere several months down the road (I don't think I'm "special" in this regard. I've heard many other people say the same thing).
Anyway, as with all of the "things I think I've learned", I don't claim to have "the secret." I'm still trying to figure this all out as much as the next person. Still, I've found that reading widely -- outside of one's areas of specialization -- can be really helpful, and so would certainly advocate it to those, like me, who have had quite enough of "running into brick walls." :)