Working abstractly can be freeing or like inventing the wheel. I always remember the darkness and seldom the moments of elation. The intense personal glory afterwards when convinced you've made something worth looking at. All of this forgotten when facing a clean sheet of paper or canvas.
Currently I am making small abstract landscape works on paper using watercolor. The rules of the medium, working light to dark do not always apply. My main medium is oil and one might say I handle both mediums similarly. As a young person I looked at watermarks as a sign of failure in my watercolor work. Today I embrace where ever the paint wishes to travel and dry. Which brings me to one last thought about the medium. You don't know what you've got till it is dry. Usually for me that is the next morning. Like receiving a surprise I love revisiting the work.
Figurative work is a different experience in that you begin with some plan. Granted you must execute the thing knowing that it has already been done by brilliant people. It helps to have the artist ego telling you that you will bring something New. Sounds like fun, right!? It is.