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After writing for an hour I have to go to bed for an hour and this repeats for a few cycles every day. How do you deal with this? I don't know if I would have the willpower to push myself to do exercise or cook in that post-writing mental state. Is it okay that I just go lie down?

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    How many times a day does this happen? Are you taking breaks during that hour of writing? (Schools of thought like Pomodoro would have you taking a break halfway.)
    – Laurel
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 0:47
  • There's like 3 work/rest cycles usually and I prefer to be hyper focused and it takes time to enter the zone so I prefer an hour I think
    – Jack Pan
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 1:06

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What you experience is neither common nor normal. While cognitive work is exhausting for everyone, the average person can do cognitive tasks for about 4 to 6 hours efficiently without more than minor breaks, as research shows.1 Most professional writers write for 4 to 5 hours uninterrupted each day, as psychologist Paul J. Silvia has found.2

If you feel so exhausted that you must lie down during all kinds of cognitive work (e.g. while you are learning for school or university, as well) or during all kinds of tasks, you should see a physician or psychotherapist to rule out physical causes (e.g. iron deficiency, hypothyroidism, or cancer) or a mental disorder (e.g. depression or Asperger). That you experience hyperfocus could indicate that you might suffer from AD(H)D.

If you experience this exhaustion only during writing, but not during other mental tasks, I would need more information to understand what is going on. Again, I'd recommend you talk to a professional (in this case a psychotherapist) to get a professional assessment.


1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention_span: "[S]elective sustained attention, also known as focused attention, is the level of attention that produces consistent results on a task over time. Common estimates of the [selective sustained] attention span of healthy teenagers and adults range 5 hours."

2 Silvia, P. J. (2018). How to write a lot (2nd ed.). Washington: American Psychological Association.

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  • A reference to specific research is good, but I would like a citation of the research as well Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 13:55
  • FWIW your first source for the '4-6 hours' of writing statistic refers to those hours per day. I can't find any explicit comment on this being uninterrupted duration. For the OP, if they're repeating this cycle of work-rest 4-6 times a day, they would actually match up perfectly with this statistic.
    – Onyz
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 14:09
  • @Onyz Indeed. Must have been in one of the sources I went through when researching that question. I thought I had put it in there as well. I have edited my answer here to give a different source.
    – Ben
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 17:54
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I don't think that's a problem. Personally, I would do something brainless, like walk, vacuum, laundry, etc. Take the dog for a walk, she's always up for it. Watch some TV, comedy or stand-up, drama, whatever. If you fall asleep doing that, no penalty points.

But if lying down and taking a nap is what you do, do that.

In short, embrace it. That's how you are. That's how you produce writing. In the end, readers don't care if it takes you 15 minutes to produce a page, or two days to produce a page. All they care about is the quality of your writing, not how fast you got it done.

The agent and publisher don't care, either. You have to submit a completed work, and they will judge it for quality alone, not how many hours of your life went into it.

One suggestion I can make, if you are good at storytelling, is to switch to screenplays. The industry standard for a movie screenplay is one page per minute, so these tend to be 85 to 100 pages max, with 90 the ideal. and the pages are quite sparse at that. You do have to learn to be very efficient in describing settings, but the descriptions are literally sketchy, the director and other professionals will provide nearly all the details.

Perhaps a product with much less writing, in a fairly rigid format for pacing, but still requiring excellent story telling and plotting, would be more up your alley.

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