After finishing my exam I emailed my advisor, some members of my committee, friends, and other dissertation writers to see if any of them had consulted specific books or websites when they began the writing process. I guess I was not all that surprised to find out that none of them had done so when they began writing. Typically such books (IMHO) suck as they are filled with ra-ra, get you going, you can do it type advice. I was never a cheerleader, I went to schools that did not have cheerleaders, and I certainly was not in the mood for one. Nevertheless, I still felt some need to check about a dozen of the various books on dissertation writing out of the library.
To me the compulsion to read through some of these books was simple: just because I know how to write a paper does not mean I know how to write a dissertation. Like, just because I know how to change the oil in my car does not mean I know anything about working on its engine; If I suddenly found myself in a situation in which I needed to work on the engine of my car I would turn to my 1200 page Bentley Service Manual and read up on what was wrong and what I needed to do. Faced with the dissertation I was looking for some sort of instruction manual. Instruction manual is perhaps the wrong term, but I think you get the gist of what I mean.
For me looking at the various books on dissertation was a practical move and one that would hopefully help to calm my nerves. I think of it as a practical move because, well, lets be honest, how many dissertations has your advisor written? How many books has he or she published? How many dissertations has he or she overseen? If the number here is kind of low or if your field of study is a relatively new one (as mine is), I personally think it makes sense to peruse the writings of those whose job it is to guide students through the dissertation process.
There are many, many books out there on how to write your dissertation, and certainly consulting one is not a necessary step (as my informal survey of academic friends proved), but it is a step that made sense for me. I am not going to endorse any one book here, but there is one that I, personally, have found the most helpful and will probably use as my guide over the next year plus of writing.
For now I am a big fan of this book, but we will see what my advisor thinks of the book soon enough.