Being able to code in a programming language is quite exhilarating. You get to create apps and websites, and it’s a highly marketable skill. However, learning to code can seem to be quite a taunting task for those just starting out. Here are some tips I picked up when I started coding to help ease your mind and learn to code any language.
1.) Learn by doing
There are many how-to books and guides out there that coders use as resources. Every book you get on coding you should treat as a resource. However, don’t just read the book or guides straight through. Read a new technique or term, and then try it out. Coding is very hands on, and there is no better way to learn than by doing. It helps ingrain the term or technique in your head, and once you do it, it becomes easier to recall.
2.) Code on whiteboards
While coding is designed to be done on a computer, coding on a whiteboard helps you visualize the language, and refreshes your juices by taking you out of your comfort zone on a computer and forcing you to rethink things in a new environment. It’s an especially great technique when you are stumped or stuck on a problem, since it helps you to think in a different way. Besides, many interviews require you to code on a whiteboard, so if you practice early on in your journey, it will be easier to do in an interview.
3.) Take regular breaks
This is true for any thought-intensive endeavor, not just coding. You need to give your mind a rest to recharge at least 10 minutes every 2 hours. It helps refresh your thought process, and keeps you from burning out. Taking regular breaks will not only boost your mental health and thought process, it also makes you more productive!
4.) Take each project one simple feature at a time
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is that every time I’m working on an app or a project, break it down to the simplest and most basic set of features that compose the app, and focus on one at a time. Trust me, this really is the best way to look at each project. A huge app or piece of software can be very daunting and intimidating, especially when you are just starting out with the project. However, by identifying the simplest and most basic feature you need to build, and then proceeding to attack that one feature, you are breaking down the app into it’s small, manageable and basic components, while making the app easier to manage mentally and psychologically. So just take a deep breath, figure out what feature you need to build next, and just focus on that one simple feature. Before you know it, you will have a huge app ready to go. It surprises me every time I get to that point.
5.) Don’t be a lone wolf
The vast majority of programmers I’ve met are really friendly and sociable people, and the industry is heavily weighted towards teamwork and pair programming. Take any opportunity you can get to meet programmers. Go to meetups, hackathons, presentations etc. Immerse yourself in the local tech culture and scene. Build a network of peers and don’t be afraid to ask them to help you out or pair program with you. I can’t tell you how many pickles I’ve gotten myself out of when I needed to meet a deadline, I was stuck at a roadblock, and reached out to one of many fellow programmers who would pair program with me and help me think differently and get over that roadblock. Programming is a social industry, don’t hesitate to reach out to a fellow programmer to help you. Conversely, be willing to pair with another programmer when they reach out to you.