The one important thing I learned was that I should set a weekly goal for writing, rather than a daily one. I promised myself I would write 500 words a day on RID, but it just proved too difficult, between reading/research and actually sitting and thinking about the topic.
What I did in the end was to divide the paper into 'chapters' (rather like the thesis is, but because this is an essay there aren't any divisions) on each seperate subject (Seleucid/Hasmonean/Roman Rule, Judea in the time of Jesus, the two Jewish Wars) and make each section into an essay of its own. And that worked perfectly, because I divided up the word count and what I effectively wrote were three 3000 word essays, which were easier to write than one 10,000 word paper. And in the end, all that had to be added was the intro, conclusion and a couple of paragraphs so that everything flowed nicely.
Throughout this semester, I've felt very laid back as well, something I can attribute to having Rick as my supervisor and meeting with him once or twice a week to discuss my concerns. He also looked at my drafts and gave me feedback fairly quickly, which I'm so grateful for. The only serious pressure I really felt was to get the first draft completed by the mid-semester break. After doing that, I felt much more relaxed, because the bulk of the work was done and now it was a matter of refining it until RID looked exactly as I wanted it to.
20,000 word thesis next year? Pfft. What's an extra 7400 words? ;) This was the best possible preparation I could have for next year, and I'm so glad that I got to do it.