What is your advice to people just getting started in code?

Ben Halpern on January 15, 2017

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Redo something you struggled to do. Redo it at least twice. Redo it until you can do it automatically. Your abilities aren't measured by what you accomplished, they're measured by what you can do. So if you did it once, you maybe got 25% of what was there to get out of it. If you do it again, that second time it will go much more smoothly, you won't trip up on most of the things you got stuck on the first time, it might take you a day instead of a week. So much quicker and smoother, which means your time is better spent and your brain is less interrupted, leaving you more time to take away useful realizations. The third time you do it, you might get it in a couple of hours (or at the very least, you can practice until you're able to do it that quickly). You're sort of caching the lessons you learned in your head.

That project that was hard but you did it once, that's right at your sweet spot, you already did the hard part, the 80% effort that got you 20% of the knowledge. Do it a second time for 20% effort and 80% knowledge. Plus, you'll see how far you progressed, which will help you realize that yes, you can do this.

The reality is that any programming task you do is a bunch of smaller tasks put together. So if you practice something you know you can do, it gives you the opportunity to see and practice those smaller tasks that can be combined in other ways to do other things. Meaning that repeating a task or project will be very useful on the next different task or project.

It would also be worth reading the Little Book of Talent and / or Talent Code. Quick reads full of wonderful advice for becoming competent in a domain.

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