In short: yes, absolutely. A broad knowledge base and diversified skills generally improves most kinds of work. Coming at writing from more than one perspective will usually make writing more thought-out and compelling.
For one, creative writing will help academic writing by adding descriptive language, helping create relatable examples, and making it more readable. In my experience in psychology, reading academic research can be a real slog. Even the most erudite individuals appreciate research that isn’t painful to get through. The ability to clearly and succinctly articulate your ideas will lend you more credibility and people will want to read your academic essays.
Beyond that, creative writing promotes creative thinking, which is certainly beneficial in analytical writing. Thinking creatively is not only helpful for artistic endeavors but for problem solving, drawing connections between ideas, and working independently. A recent article in Quartz provides some interesting insight into “creative minds,” including that they tend to make more connections between ideas and are better able to draw order from chaos. These are essential skills for good research. The best analytical essays are able to build novel connections to form strong arguments.
On the other side, thinking analytically can also improve creative writing. Essays rely heavily on structure and flow, which are also important in creative writing. You can take the same approach to a creative story plot or memoir as you would when considering how to organize research examples and constructing an argument. A story should make logical sense (structure) and make you want to keep reading (flow).
It’s also helpful for editing. Often, you’ll have more research than really fits into your essay, just like you might have more story ideas or experiences than you can really fit into a story. In both kinds of writing, you want to make your argument as strong as possible. In an essay, that argument might be to support a thesis statement, while in a story, it could be the elements you most want to develop about a character. Not to mention, even fiction often requires research. Pulitzer Prize-winning books usually have some cultural context or significance that would have necessitated at least some research.
Writing creatively can allow students to develop independent thinking skills and approach questions from multiple angles. At the same time, analytical writing and research informs how you think about structure and logic in creative writing. It’s a great idea to pursue both.