I have worked in software development for over 10 years now, and it's dawning on me that I rarely get to create anything "new". I realize that "new" is a vague term, but I would define it as anything from an obvious new large-scale project to a new large feature in an existing project (say something that would require some thought into its design, and that might take 2 weeks or more to complete). Maybe a rough guideline is something is new if it requires a written spec. I think most programmers know what I'm talking about - you're in the zone, writing a ton of code at a fast pace.
Anyway, thinking back to what I've done, I'd estimate that less than 10% of my time is spent on "new" work. There are things like "adapt this existing system to work in this new environment", which certainly requires a lot of planning, but the actual coding and "new" comes down to making tiny changes in many places throughout the code. Likewise for small feature requests - if I know what to do, these can often be finished in under an hour, and if I don't, it's just a lot of reading code and figuring out what to do (which frustrates me because I learn much better by doing, not by reading).
In general I feel like I am not really creating anything most of the time. I kind of assumed that this was the case at most places - a new product would come out rather quickly and at that point everyone would be excited and banging out the code at a fast pace, but then once live it moves into maintenance mode, where few of the subsequent changes would be considered "new & creative".
Am I wrong? Am I accurately describing most programming jobs, or do most programmers feel like they are often creating new things?