I often find, professionally, that I am better at working within existing systems than creating new ones. I’m sure there is clinical name for it, and now I’m trying to write about it. Which becomes very meta very quickly, because I’m trying to write about the part of my personality which makes it hard to write in the first place.

I often encounter a mental block when it comes to creating new things. Naming is often a problem which can trip me up for a while, or figuring out where to start on a new problem. Perhaps it is a fear of making mistakes that will live a long time? Or some kind of very critical part of my subconsious that, over the years, has witnessed other people who have a natural talent for “starting well” that I definitely lack.

Anyways, to illustrate what I mean, I’ve been threatening to write this blog for weeks. I thought I could overcome the mental block of starting something new by embracing a JFDI mentality (just fucking do it). The honest truth is that no one I don’t already know will ever read these ramblings. And many people I already know won’t read it unless I ask them to.

So, I started with a little notebook, my favorite place to work in Cambridge, and some coffee. Pretty soon I had a big list of things I wanted to make and a plan of attack that I felt embraced my JFDI approach.

Then I spent weeks investigating and trying out different approaches to writing and hosting a blog online. Totally demotivating and time consuming. Thanks brain.

I’ve researched, in-depth, how the following Static Site Generators (SSGs) work:

  • Jekyll
  • Ghost
  • Hugo
  • awestruct
  • Middleman

When I say research I mean I’ve at least read the website, played with example sites, browsed different themes, read all the available material about hosting. For three of them (Jekyll, Ghost, Hugo) I’ve actually attempted to build the site you’re reading now. Although Hugo is my favorite, I’ve decided to throw out the work I did with it and run with Jekyll for now.

I’ve only recently discovered SSGs, and it wasn’t until I was reading a post on alicebartlett.co.uk that I realized they even were a thing. I knew Alice in London and I admire her work and writing. I enjoy reading her prose as she has a great voice when she writes.

I have a habit of reading the source of a website when I like the way it looks or functions. Usually you can tell if it is a popular CMS like Tumblr or Wordpress within a few seconds of looking at the raw HTML. Alice’s site was completely custom, which isn’t a surprise since she does that professionally, but it wasn’t until I was emailing her to ask about it that I realized it was just a bunch of markdown templates rendered to static HTML. Soon I was off reading all about SSGs, Jekyll, Github Pages, etc.

So, here I am, I’ve finally written some posts. Next challenge: make it look good.