These activities, since they are so different in nature, are best separated in time and space and tooling.
I produce in the early morning, sitting at my dining table in the living room, using a pen and paper. In the early morning your dreams still linger and your critical faculties are not yet fully awake. This makes it an ideal time for just producing stuff. I take this seriously in that I do not even allow myself to cross out words. Just keep on writing, and sort it out later. Later on the day I edit, sitting in my study and using a text processor.
As a side note, I would not recommend this practice for writing code.
Oh, I do! I mean not all the time, but if I have a particularly hard problem I'm working on, pencil and paper and coffee in the morning help me work it out. You're not going to write out pages and pages of code, obviously. But there's just something about scratching out the algorithm or sketching a design freehand on paper that helps my thinking process.
Bonus: I don't tend to need to rely on IDEs writing code for me. And Whiteboards don't scare me in the least.
Some of the best code I've written has also been in an exhausted/ not-fully-awake state
The coding proper can be done in a less vigilant state: it is like laying bricks or folding napkins. The hands know what they are doing. (Exaggerating here, but not too much. God knows I have coded tired or drunk or stoned, and not even my worst work.)
I so wish I could code stoned. I've never been able to in any meaningful way. I don't code inebriated anymore, but in my twenties it was preferred. These days I think my brain basically responds to inebriation of any sort as "why are you still working while I'm trying to enjoy myself?".
It was something I had been considering, analyzing, debating and discarding as impossible for several weeks prior to that. Then when it came down to it, not only was I able to implement it, but it worked perfectly for more than 6 years before anyone was able to improve on that design.
I attribute the success to two things: (a) the fact that I had done a lot of analytical work beforehand; (b) the inhibition-lessening effect of alcohol that allowed me to enter the zone and implement the solution without worrying about complexity or other external factors.
Once the core idea worked - and worked it did! - all that was left was to revisit it the next day, sober this time, and fix the remaining issues, documentation and tests.
The secret might have been, all along, wake up late, arrive at work shortly after without doing much in between, and start designing already while commuting.
Notably I've been able to achieve a little bit of the same while half-falling asleep, with the added caveat that it requires jotting down good ideas for the next day. And they may be not quite discernible the next day.
Bears repeating - not quite the best code, but certainly the best functionalities.
 breakfast before work is a productivity killer
Intentionally, yes. I couldn't find a definitive translation that I liked. Here's another take:
"They [the Persians] are accustomed to deliberate on matters of the highest moment when warm with wine; but whatever they in this situation may determine is again proposed to them on the morrow, in their cooler moments, by the person in whose house they had before assembled. If at this time also it meet their approbation, it is executed; otherwise it is rejected. Whatever also they discuss when sober, is always a second time examined after they have been drinking."
I really just wanted to riff on the subject of involving alcohol in decision making.
An idea similar to "write drunk, edit sober".
After discussions with a friend I figured out I could just relax after work (which reduces stress) and wake up early to get my work done. It was the single best discovery I made in regards to improving my overall productivity.
I’ve always felt 3-5am was the most beautiful time of the day; though I’m used to seeing it on my way to bed, and pushing myself to wake up early enough to make it worthwhile hasn’t paid dividends yet.
Thanks for sharing your experience - it gives me confidence I can switch.
That being said, I still plan on going back to being a night owl when the kids are grown.
As for the article, it does try its best to uncover reasons, which ultimately seems to conclude 'because'. Maybe it's just because it's very taxing, to write or be creative, and the body is best suited in short bursts earlier in the day. Skip to Additional anecdotes of writers’ preferred time if you want the good stuff.
I also found that this is the time when I write my least cynical comments, that pull in the most upvotes.
Given that a large part of this article rests on self-reported data from interviews (which are specifically vehicles of self-promotion), and that the more anonymous data seems to contradict the interview data, I'd consider this as a more likely explanation than most.
And, tbf, I don't know if my theory is in any way applicable. But it's certainly more plausible than "the liminal space right after sleep" and other quite esoteric models.
The article as-is is assuming humans without ulterior motives. That often doesn't hold in practice. (This is in general a problem with studies relying on self-reported data - how much is truth vs. wishful thinking)
Ultimately, any decent writer understands that the purpose of an interview is to project an image, not to deliver truthful statements about mundane details. Thompson's image requires him to not be a lark. (It was likely shaped by the fact that he really isn't one, but it's a self-reinforcing cycle)
So if you are interested in finding out more, I'd suggest that it pays to focus on writers where their stated behavior contradicts their public image.
1) For most of history, we could only do work during daylight.
2) Agricultural work specifically wants early light - there's a lot of things you can't do in bright sunlight because it stresses plants.
It's definitely around for a while - the whole "the early bird" thing dates back to at least the 1600's. Aristotle was mumbling about getting up early as well. ("Rising before daylight is also to be commended; it is a healthy habit, and gives more time for the management of the household as well as for liberal studies.")
Personally, I'm more a fan of Diogenes ;)
So, likely it's considered good because it maximizes "productive" time.
 Economics, Book1, section 1345a: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:abo:tlg...
- One component of the popular concept of "laziness" is staying in bed for much longer than you need for sleep.
- It's not symmetric: going to bed early is not popularly associated with laziness because going to bed is an active decision (you have to change your state from up to in bed). In contrast, staying in bed is passive.
- "laziness" is considered morally bad
- Being a morning person involves waking up early and is therefore thought, rightly or wrongly, to be evidence of "not laziness".
However his output was notably different from other writers (by reports) so it may not generalise.
And to your point -- I'm one of those people who can't nap. Napping messes me up. I can feel my hormones sloshing and bending me around.
To each their own, of course.
Appendix: Previous systems
1) Try writing perfect prose on the first try: This is paralyzing. I would just sit staring at my computer screen for hours, thinking of the perfect introduction and perfect sentences. I have since realized that this is bad for my mental health and productivity.
2) Write on paper: I then tried writing on paper. Got more done than just staring at the screen. It is difficult for me to write for extended periods of time like this. My hands start aching, and my handwriting goes from bad to illegible. Typing everything out also adds unnecessary friction.
3) Hemingway mode: I was looking at markdown editors for Pop OS when I stumbled upon "Hemingway mode" on GhostWriter. This disables your backspace key. Not being able to edit was frustrating for me at first, but I got used to this. I also implemented this on my MacBook by using BetterTouchTool to disable backspace in iA writer. The typewriter and focus modes on iA writer are helpful for a smoother writing experience. I wrote more using this system, but still spent a lot of time looking at the sentence I was writing and trying to make it better in my mind before I typed.
4) Typing blind, or "type the first draft without looking at it": I was trying to find a hardware solution to this problem. I almost convinced myself to buy a $500 typing machine with an eink display. That is overkill for me. I figured I could make my own by somehow displaying the text I was typing on a kindle. I found out about the kindleberry Pi but that had too many moving parts. I tried using seashells to output my terminal display from the mac on a website in kindle browser. That failed. While testing that, I realized I typed fine enough without looking at the screen! Spent that day experimenting with some keyboards and apps. I now use a small cheap bluetooth keyboard connected to my phone, or a nice mechanical keyboard connected to my iPad. I set up a GitHub repo for my markdown notes, syncing with my iCloud Drive iA writer folder through Working Copy. The repo is for redundant backup and to access the notes on my Pop OS desktop. I mostly write on my phone or iPad now, use my laptop to edit it later. I wake up, meditate and start typing while staring out of the window. I get about 1000 or so words out in about 30 minutes. This is better for ideation and stream of consciousness writing. For more technical stuff, I type blind to get ideas and general framework in place, and use Hemingway mode to type out the rest. Been very happy with this system so far. Writing is a joy again!
 https://seashells.io, it seems down right now. Some info here https://github.com/anishathalye/seashells