What's sexy is new ideas, breakthroughs, innovation. This paragraph from Farnam Street Brain Food newsletter reminded me that maintenance matters, too:
Capitalism excels at innovation but is failing at maintenance, and for most lives it is maintenance that matters more — "We overvalue innovation; we undervalue the routine work that keeps the built world going. Innovation is “only a small piece of what happens with technology”. Most of what happens is repair and maintenance when innovation becomes infrastructure. Just as we celebrate innovators, so we should celebrate maintainers, “those individuals whose work keeps ordinary existence going rather than introducing novel things.”"
I think this applies to individuals as well as to society as a whole. For instance, there are lots of little things you need to do in order to maintain a writing practice, and they're not sexy or new. They include keeping good records, keeping up with what's happening in the field, getting enough sleep, exercising, and remembering to stand up and move every hour or so.
It also applies to continuing to write when you get to the hard parts, avoiding letting your inner critic stop you, and finishing and rewriting what you already have instead of moving on the more appealing choice of starting something new.
We'll never win a prize for doing any of those, but they help pave the way for the possibility that we will create something good.