Not an option for me. But the general idea—do little, tangible things—is key. As a curious kid, she took apart so many clocks, her parents bought her one just to disassemble and reassemble. So it is with code. You can grab things that already exist, rip them apart, and see how they work.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck
So I went to Codepen. I found a couple of text boxes that worked more or less the way I wanted and added in some secret-code decryption scripts. Presto: I had my project done.
You see something great, and you reuse it. Also, starting with an existing app and making it do something new, something you uniquely want, can help prime your pump and make it less intimidating to begin a piece of code that stretches your boundaries. As I learned more coding, I realized I could make a lot of little pieces of software that were useful for me.
But they all had one problem: They generally forced me to pick a quantum of time that was 15 or 25 minutes. And, well, my procrastination problems were worse than that.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck | Mark Manson
I wanted a Pomodoro timer that would let me work for… five minutes. Or three. Or one minute. When I was truly avoiding work, hell, working for one damn minute would be a victory, people! But none of the Pomodoro software was designed for someone as horrifically work-avoidant as me. Six seconds! And to make it funny and witty to use, I wrote a ton of cheery, you-go messages for when I finish each work session and coded it so the robotic voice of my computer speaks it aloud.
And why I made it for myself. And wow, was it useful! I started using it on a daily basis; I still use it a few times a week, when I feel myself starting to slack off. The more I coded, the more I found things I could build to make my work easier. I made web scrapers that would auto-grab material I needed off websites for journalistic research. I made Twitter scripts that would archive any links I posted to Twitter every day and email me a summary.
When I got worried that I was too frequently using italics while writing my book it is a bad habit, stylistically I wrote a Python script to analyze the text, pull out every italicized word, and deliver me a long and humiliating list. The point is, one of the best ways to motivate yourself to learn coding is to build little apps that actually do something you need done.
It pushes you to go further, to work past the frustration and the blockages. I also discovered I loved using P5. Shiffman tells me that one great way in to coding is to take something artistic you like—music, drawing, games, wordplay and text—and learn programming that works within your field. If you make music, try learning Sonic Pi , which lets you program tunes. If you dig art, learn P5.
2. Think of a Near Miss.
He laughed. But what many programmers do much of the day is sit around Googling things, reading up, trying to figure out how to do something—how to solve a problem, how to kill a bug that has stopped them in their tracks. They might have done it hundreds of times before, but there are so many little fiddly aspects of the languages they use that it feels weirdly inefficient to use their brains for rote memorization because they can just Google whatever rote knowledge they need to quickly recall. I was so deeply relieved when she said that! So when you learn to code, your core skill is going to be constantly learning and constantly relearning.
Over the years, new languages and frameworks always emerge, and old ones evolve. So nearly everyone I know who taught themselves to code built some sort of social network around coding. Go to tech talks and hackathons, and hang out at startups and hackerspaces. I too often spent time grinding away at a problem, myself, instead of asking for help.
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This was an awesome read, thank you for all the insights! For a moment I forgot coding can be fun, especially when all my time coding is either for school assignments or work. Like Liked by 1 person. Like Like. Great read! But after reading this feels like that feeling is kind of normal and that only by doing it everyday will it fade thanks again!
I love that you bring the child-like curiosity back into programming. I am a much newer programmer and have been finding myself grinding to get a project done and feeling kind of burnt out. Getting back to the creative aspects of the job was a much needed reminder. Also, the resources are all very cool. I know many, if not most programmers are like this — copy-paste-Google etc.
But, also the top programmers, they just go in one go. They are speaking the language with their fingers on the keyboard, they know every dot comma etc. Maybe at first to get going but just focus on a problem.
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A silly problem. Focus on a problem with your Google-Fu and be patient.