Last Friday I was working on my second paper and kept getting stuck over and over again. I realized I didn't have a decent enough background to start writing yet (this project is different from the other two, which I've focused most of the last 3.5 years on). So, I looked at some of the more common references in the papers I already had and found four major papers that basically do what I'm doing with my data (although my project is much smaller). I read one on Friday, two over the weekend (unheard of for me!) and the last one yesterday.
I feel much more confident with what I'm doing now! In fact, I had a meeting with my supervisor today and I was telling him all my ideas for my data analysis and he seemed impressed! It was one of the first times where I felt we were having more of a conversation than him just telling me what to do.
Now I wish I had started reading papers earlier! I'm one of those people that don't really read anything until I have too (i.e., when studying for a course or writing a paper or a thesis). DH always was so good about reading papers, and I realize now how important it is. I've made so much progress on my paper in the last two days - it's incredible!
So, my goal now is to read one paper per day, in the evening when I'm at home (and would otherwise be watching the 30th re-run of Friends or The Simpson's). I figure if I do this for the next month or so I'll be caught up and ready to start writing my thesis intro!