Back my first semester in grad school, as a young M.A. student, the first paper I ever had to submit was one of two 20-pagers for a seminar with Big Deal Professor. I was new, I suspected that I was there on sufferance, and this was the professor who had drawn me to this school. So, I listened carefully to what he had to say in class, drew up a proposal for my first paper, got his approval, and began to read.
And I kept reading. And reading. For four weeks solid I read, because I was new both to the topic of my paper, and to the broader topic of the course in general. I knew nothing, and thought I had to know everything.
And four weeks into the reading phase (keep in mind that this was only the first of two major papers due that semester, about 7 weeks in), I figured out my first valuable grad school lesson: There will always be another book you should read. But you can't possibly, so at some point, you just need to arbitrarily call a halt to the reading, and start writing.
So I put away the books, and wrote, and revised, and bagged my first grad-school A.**
And now, here I am, fifteen years, two advanced degrees, one book, and a handful of articles later, with a presentation on new materials staring me in the face. Oddly enough, the paper version is going to have to be about -- you guessed it -- 20 pages long. And there are a stack of books and articles that I think I absolutely, positively must get read before I can start to write. And only just now did I remember 25 year-old me, and how she was brave enough to just stop reading, and start writing. So I'm giving myself until Sunday, and then, ready or not (and I'm probably more ready than I think I am), I write.
**This was before I figured out that anything less than an A-minus is a warning shot fired across a grad student bow. But it was a triumph at that moment, and that's how I will continue to treat it, thankyouverymuch.