Have you written drafts for letters of recommendations for the people from whom that you are asking them? I've done a few, and I have to say, they are far more difficult to write than an actual proposal. How many different ways can I expound on the few basic accomplishments that I've achieved so far? Or perhaps in writing the draft, I've just realized that I'm just not as special as I thought I was (unfortunately, a three sentence paragraph is not enough to let reviewers know how spectacular you are....).
The thesaurus is my friend. My very, very good friend. See, usually you will need more than one letter of reference or letter of recommendation, and some of those who have agreed to write them will likely need a draft of your amazing character and ability. The thing is, these letters (usually 3) will be read by all the reviewers. So if you have the same letter from all your references, they will get a little suspicious even though drafting parts of these letters may be common practice. Alas, you must learn to paint yourself in a glowing light many times over. So, the first one I write really is not that bad. I can make myself sound pretty good. The second one is okay. But the third, or whatever final number remains?? Yikes.
Here's and example:
1) "The applicant has demonstrated exceptional research focus and academic excellence during her brief time at the university. In her first year as a doctoral student, she has published two papers and presented at both local and national research conferences in her brief time at the university."
2) The applicant is dedicated to scholarly achievement as evidenced by her commitment to the dissemination of research knowledge and her academic performance.
3) The applicant is passionate about research and has essentially surrounded herself with all things scholarly and research-oriented. This level of obsessive isolationism demonstrates her profound dedication to a life of science and solitude.
4) The applicant is really smart. And she can write things and sometimes people listen to her when she talks about this stuff.
5) Please choose her. Otherwise she will continue to ask me for letters of reference.
A suggestion: keep copies of all of your fantastical permutations. You may need to submit another proposal for another grant that won't be read by the same reviewers....