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The Dilemma of Getting Started

·942 words·5 mins
Jake Treacher


It has taken almost eight years to create this post – I had registered this domain in 2016, and it is now 2024.

Upon introspection, I have determined that this is the result of two issues: perfectionism and a lack of self-confidence.


As with most engineers, there is an innate desire to do things “the right way”. For me, this meant starting a blog involved building a fully featured content management system from scratch. I was single-handedly going to make WordPress obsolete.

I refused to use any frameworks, only pure HTML, CSS, JS. There was a sense that if I use anything other than foundational web technologies, I would be cheating and would considered a fraud. At some stage, I managed to overcome that hurdle, but then quickly encountered the next: there are too many frameworks. And, of course, I had to become familiar with all the technologies that are “essential” for a basic blog: CI/CD, automated rollbacks, alarms, deploying to AWS, Docker, K8s (because why not?), and probably others that I’ve forgotten. This lead to some combination of analysis paralysis and tutorial purgatory. I deluded myself into thinking I was making progress when, in reality, I was avoiding meeting the commitment to myself of actually starting a blog.

It took some time, internally fighting with myself, to settle on an approach I hadn’t considered: use the least effort possible and just get it working.

The solution I eventually landed on was to use a static site generator. I had eliminated the “essential” features that actually weren’t necessary. This significantly simplified the work that was required, and led to the final debate - Hugo vs 11ty. But then the scope creep returned: I had to create my own theme, and I refused to use existing starter templates. I swapped back and forth between Hugo and 11ty - neither did exactly what I wanted in the way that I wanted. And that’s when I started having dark thoughts: “maybe you should create your own static site generator?”. I was overwhelmed, I was exhausted, and I had accomplished nothing. I had given up on this project.

About a year later, at the end of March 2024, I decided that I was over this nonsense. Hugo is more suited for blogging and it has great themes. Once I committed, it only took about two hours: setting up Go and Hugo, configuring the theme, and deploying to Netlify. I didn’t have to make it so complicated.

There are two important lessons to take away from my story:

  • just pick something and stick with it - any technology is suitable if you know it well enough; and
  • if it works, that’s good enough.


I’m sure everyone that has considered starting a blog has had similar thoughts:

  • What do I post about?
  • Will people care about what I have to share?
  • Am I qualified enough to give my opinion?

I’ve encountered two anecdotes that offer inspiration and insights to address the questions raised above.

One is from Ed Sheeran where he talks about song writing:

[When starting something new] view it as a dirty tap. When you switch a dirty tap on, it’s going to flow shit water out for a substantial amount of time, and then clean water is going to start flowing. … with songs, you’re going to write shit songs at the beginning … my songs were terrible, my raps were terrible … but I got it out of me. And the more you write, the more you experience, then you start flowing clean water, and songs start getting better and better.

The other is from “Tribe of Mentors” by Timothy Ferriss, where Tim Urban talks about how he started his blog:

I started out basically imagining I was writing for a stadium full of replicas of myself — which made things easy because I already knew exactly what topics interested them, what writing style they liked, what their sense of humor was, etc. … By focusing inward on yourself as a writer instead of outward on what you think readers will want to read, you’ll end up creating the best and most original work.

This had led me to the following conclusions:

  • be persistent;
  • be consistent; and
  • be authentic.

None of these people mention anything about being perfect. And they’ve both managed to become successful in their respective fields. I suspect that for myself, this desire for perfection is what led to a lack of self-confidence. Nothing will ever be perfect, as there’s always something more that can be done. Instead of striving for perfection, I’ve realized the importance of completion. Embracing imperfection and finishing projects allows for growth, learning, and the satisfaction of achievement.

So, what should one post about? Here are some ideas that I will use to get started:

  • If you encounter issues and need to reference multiple other blogs, combine them and put your own twist on it.
  • If you need to learn something new, make a post explaining your unique way of understanding it.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve been setting goals in 3-month cycles. The commitment I’ve made for this cycle is to create six posts, which is one every two weeks. Although it seems like a small goal, when we put into into perspective - given that this one took eight years - that would equate to an improvement in cadence of 20,800%!

The realizations I’ve discussed aren’t isolated occurrences that hold true forever; rather, they are decisions I have to remind myself of every day. At least for now, with this post, I’ve overcome the first major hurdle - getting started.