This post is about the ‘Handbibliothek’ (German: hand library), that part of the library where frequently-used books are shelved easily ‘to hand’. At your writing desk, you will need to build a personal Handbibliothek that will be exactly calibrated to your individual research project.
Writing has technical aspects, sure. You need skills, and training. And you need to be organised and disciplined about keeping up with deadlines and juggling projects. And writing has physical challenges, you have to sit and use your back and wrists and neck and eyes. But, you also bring your weird, inner, non-rational self to the desk when you write. The inner self that has views about what music you can listen to, or that you need to enact your writing rituals before typing a word. There are good reasons why you might like what you like, but a lot of it just is personal preference, and that is totally a great reason to take it seriously.
In 2013, I wrote one of my most significant early posts on this blog, The Perfect Sentence Vortex and How to Escape It. That post
A PhD is often inspired by a particular vision–either your own passion project or a passion project of a more senior researcher. When you pitched the thesis to funders and your faculty, the project was going to be a sweeping, world-changing, life-changing research idea that would proceed without any hitches. And then you have to deal with real life.