“Also, looking back, it feels like the entire duration of time was necessary, even if most of it wasn’t actually spent writing. It feels like I just needed time in between writing sessions to let my mind do its thing under the hood, subconsciously. I’d write for about an hour, wander about the room (or do something else for an hour), and then I’d return to writing.”
I find this to be the case with most mentally demanding tasks. I generally expect to only get as much as 4 hours of work done in a day because I’ll need to spend the rest of it on “breaks” where what I’m really doing is giving my brain space to consolidate memories and whatever else it needs to do to function at full capacity. It’s an important part of work that often goes overlooked because it’s not active, but for me it has been vitally important.
Seems to be one of the many ways mentally demanding work does not resemble more tedious labor.