Mark, that’s a really good point. I’ve heard other hyper-productive people tell me the same pattern, which is that they destroyed themselves when they were young and then got more efficient later.
I completely agree that that’s a common life pattern.
What I’m more suspicious of is the idea that you have to destroy yourself when you’re young, rather than that all of the skills for efficient productivity could be adopted early in life.
The biggest example I have for this is Cal Newport. He’s now a professor, but his blog Study Hacks was all about getting great grades without studying all the time. He’s one of my favorite productivity writers. And if you could imagine him collaborating in a coaching role with Stephen King, then King might have been able to adopt his current system much earlier.