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Thanks for the mention Elliot.
My take — after going a extremely long time without a truly satisfying pet project, is that unless you happen to have the freedom to spend all your time doing work that you’re completely engaged with and that hits all the right buttons to excite and challenge you, pet projects are something of a “must” to maintain some level of sanity and creativity.
In other words, they’re a good way to balance the things you have to do with the things you want to do. The trick is to treat them as you would real projects though – give yourself deadlines and be realistic with your expectations.