Lots of us are willing to work when we’re feeling inspired, but what about when you’re not? According to Seth Godin, the true creative professional distinguishes himself by doing work even when he’s not in the mood.

Here’s what Godin has to say in an interview for our new 99U book:

Everybody who does creative work has figured out how to deal with their own demons to get their work done. There is no evidence that setting up your easel like Van Gogh makes you paint better. Tactics are idiosyncratic. But strategies are universal, and there are a lot of talented folks who are not succeeding the way they want to because their strategies are broken.

The strategy is simple, I think. The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.

There are many ways you can signify to yourself that you are doing your practice. For example, some people wear a white lab coat or a particular pair of glasses, or always work in a specific place—in doing these things, they are professionalizing their art.

The notion that I do my work here, now, like this, even when I do not feel like it, and especially when I do not feel like it, is very important. Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby.

This is an excerpt (and interior photograph) from Manage Your Day-to-Day, the new book from 99U, with contributions from Seth Godin, Leo Babauta, Steven Pressfield, Dan Ariely, and many more.

  • http://www.jvfotografie.com/ John Verbruggen

    When is the book shipping? Can’t wait…

  • jkglei

    It comes out next week on Tue 5/21. You can order here: http://www.amazon.com/99u : )

  • http://iconart.us/ Matthew

    Brilliant! Looking forward to reading the printed book – I’ve already got it pre-orderred ; )

  • http://www.pencilneck.com/ Pencilneck

    I’ve been a full time artist for nearly 20 years and I’m here to tell you that Seth is spot on. In fact I’ll go one further in that some of my best stuff has shown up when I didn’t want to be doing it due to flu, indecision, mild hangover, The Simpsons being on, my sons playing in the yard, etc. That extra discipline somehow gives one access to extra resources…but you’ve got to show up.

  • DingoBlue

    Do – or do not, there is no try.

  • R Prakash


  • alr

    the scroll line to the right of the page is a nightmare to use – please make it bigger

  • Emilia

    Everything that Seth says just makes sense. It’s simple and logical and makes you feel like getting up and implementing it straight away. Love it.

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