I’ve been using a technique called “bridging” to associate tasks with positive emotion, which makes them easier to perform. The majority of tasks that can improve my life aren’t inherently exciting, so this is a way that I work at making them more exciting.
In “bridging,” I imagine some goal and think about how the task in question takes me toward it. I might not be intrinsically motivated to write for a client, but it can provide me with the money, skills, and character development that will propel me toward my personal goals.
Visualizing this in terms of a landscape seems to help: the goal is a distant hilltop, my potential futures are the landscape around it, and the footpath to it is the path I’ll take. The more personally meaningful the goal, and the more detailed the imagining of the incremental steps towards that goal, the more positive emotion I can derive from this technique.
E.L. Doctorow said something similar about his writing style:
“It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”