What Not How

written September 4th, 2020

Over the last year I've launched a couple of things. I adopted a mindset of finishing over starting. Before committing to finishing, I was the type of person to chase down new ideas left and right. It was hard to focus on one thing. There are just too many exciting things to build!

As a software engineer I enjoy reading about technological solutions. While building I want to do things the right way. Netflix solved x problem with y so that's how I should do it, right? Probably not.

One of the hardest thing for me during my year of building turned out to be avoiding the right way entirely. My goal has been to launch products. To make things people would care about and actually get them on the market. That means I had to focus more on speed. What could I do to move faster as an indie hacker? Forget doing things for scale.

It doesn't seem like it should be hard but it was. It was hard for my ego. My ego wants me to think that if I don't do things the way FAANG software engineers do them then I'm an imposter.

When I was building Bard, there were a few times where I started to feel like an inadequate developer. I thought I would never be able to be considered technical again. I didn't build out my own React app from scratch. I used NextJS. I still used containers but deployed them with Google Cloud Run. Every shortcut I took made me feel like a cheater.

Eventually I embraced the mentality. I'm working on a new project and it's built with RedwoodJS. The project is deployed on Netlify. I didn't even build my own CI/CD pipeline like I did with Bard. But I don't feel like a cheater anymore. I feel empowered.

I'm not only optimizing for speed but developer experience and sanity. My latest project (I'll write about it soon) has been a joy to build. The tools I'm using make me productive and happy. To me, that's more important than the right way.

Don't get me wrong, I still love reading about complex solutions. I still dream of a day when I might work at a big company making waves in software engineering. But while I'm at home working on products I hope people will love, I do things the sane way. I focus on the what, not the how.