When I'm not in the right frame of mind to write, I can still make progress. There is always some aspect of the job I can do.
If I'm editing (as I am today), I'm moving the book ahead and this certainly counts as progress. But if I didn't feel up to editing today, I would work on some other aspect of my books.
If I'm deadened from too many days of editing, for instance, it's probably time to write something new, perhaps that short story I've been thinking about. I find it helps my brain when I juggle between writing and editing. Each gives me energy to pursue the other.
But maybe I"m not up to writing new fiction either. In that case, I might write something for the blog. It also represents progress because I need to attract an audience for my books. By blogging, I may be able to build an interested group of readers who will buy my books (when and if I ever get them out the door.)
Or maybe all I can do that day is think, so I put my pens and computer away and direct my mental energy toward coming up with fresh ideas for stories. Perhaps it's the perfect day to figure out a good ending for that pesky but interesting tale in the back of my mind. Or maybe I'll hit the big time and come up with the next great idea for a novel. On days like this I'll take anything. It's progress if it moves me ahead, even just a bit.
It's simple: if we don't move ahead we won't reach our goals as writers. For me, no day is allowed to pass without progress. It's my second most important golden rule (right under "Drink Espresso and Open Scrivener".
What are your rules for writing (or painting, designing, etc.)? How do you get yourself to produce?