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For the past three days, I’ve been working on a long article (almost 3,000 words at this point and only about half done) for work. It’s the one I referenced in this blog post from June.

As I flip back and forth through the piles of research resources at my desk and turn to my computer to add paragraphs, everything else seems to drop away because of the intense concentration. When I shut my computer down for the day and go home, I feel like I’m in a trance, my thoughts on the article continuing past the work day.

When I started the article, I sat down to write without an outline. Two thousand words later, when the structure drifted away, I took stock and sketched an outline on a yellow legal pad. I discovered that I needed to flip one section back to where I originally had it and flesh it out, but otherwise I wasn’t too far off from where I wanted to be.

A writing-induced trance is as much about figuring out structure and flow as it is about keeping track of research and getting the words out properly in order to make a point. It all takes a tremendous amount of thinking, which can be as exhausting as manual labor.

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