Sure, in case it helps!
By the end of February, I received all by rejections. I was devastated. I just could not process it or make any narrative sense of it. I was pretty confident that I will get in somewhere; my friends and recommendation letter writers were even more confident. It was suggested that I contact professors at schools I have applied to, asking what I could do to improve my applications next time. I just couldn't even muster the courage to do that. Really, it was a period of darkness until June. I won't torment you with my depressive state of being.
Then in June, I took a 2 weeks vacation. It was a helpful change. After return back to work, I decided that I should reapply to grad schools again, after a lot of soul searching. My GRE were valid for one more year, and I was still passionate about doctoral studies, so decided to give it a shot. I read some of the statement of purpose of my friends that have gotten in. I realized they were more impersonal/citational/jargon-y in their statements, meanwhile I was more biographical and chronological. I also spotted that I had only applied to the top 10 schools (clearly overconfident, with a conflated sense of self). I decided to expand the range to top 40 instead. I decided not to apply to any below top 40, given that the job prospects are non-existent if you stray outside the hierarchy. I threw myself into the application process from July onward.
Then came the process of selecting departments, working on writing samples, and writing the statement of purpose. I decided to apply to only those departments in the top 40 programs that had at least 6 professors that I would want to work with. Arbitrary number, but I needed some selection criteria. I found 18 programs that met this criteria. I then read at least 3 essay by these 6 professors in each program. After reading them, I read some more essays, especially those that were cited the most by the professors I had already read and those that stood out as particularly promising. After reading all of their essays, I ranked the professors from 1 to 5, based on my subjective interests in their work. This was really helpful in eliminating other schools. Being cost sensitive and focusing on quality over quantity, I decided to only apply to 10 programs. I ended up applying to the 10 programs that I gave the highest points, based on my essay readings.
This informal literature review process was very helpful in writing my statement of purpose and tweaking my writing sample. I wrote highly individualized statements, based on what the professors had said in the essays I read, especially making use to use the keywords, highlighting key problems, and talking about how I personally would expand on this research question. My writing sample was similarly reworked to incorporate all the essays I had read, although this wasn't individualized to each program as that would be just practically impossible.
I kept reworking on this till the application deadline, and then I checked out. The rest in history.
I probably went overboard with this process. It was incredibly time consuming. But, I really enjoyed it. I am sure all those essays I have read will be very helpful for the actual graduate studies.
I hope this helps. Feel free to ask me anything else.