DEV Community

Cover image for Lessons For Newbie Developers from The War of Art

Posted on • Updated on • Originally published at

Lessons For Newbie Developers from The War of Art

In October, I challenged myself to take up the #100DaysofCode challenge after I read about Alex Kallaway's journey on freeCodeCamp. On my journey, I have faced many ups and downs. Some parts of the journey were easy and some were really hard. But, I never stopped learning.

Becoming a software developer is no easy job. It's a continuous journey of learning. When the journey is easy, it's a pleasure to travel. But, the real test of grit, perseverance and patience takes place when the odds are against you. That's when I came across an article by Alex Kallaway.

I believe most developers out there are self-taught (at least most of the ones I personally know).

The best engineers I’ve worked with learned to code before or after college, rarely during.

— Sahil (@shl) May 30, 2020

Alex Kallaway mentioned 3 books in his article:

  • The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battles
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
  • The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

I read The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battles in less than half a day. It's a small book that's crystal clear and something that'll make the reader feel it was written for them.

It's written in 3 parts. The first one deals with the bad guy - Resistance. Alex talks about it in his article. The second one is about how to deal with the bad guy Turning Pro. The third one is about inspiration. The book is a treat for those who are spiritual. If you aren't, no problem it'll still teach you many invaluable lessons.

Here are some lessons I have learnt from it and every developer or an aspiring developer needs to know. (I'm not a fan of the aspiring developer label. Either you're a developer or not)

1. Beating resistance is not difficult but boring.

Steven starts the book with how he spends his day. As a writer, he has to rely on creativity to get going. But, this is where Resistance comes to play. He wins over it by following a routine. Though there's nothing extraordinary or fancy in it, he describes how he wins over resistance.

There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. What's hard is sitting down to write. What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance. - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

It can get boring to solve javascript coding problems or even learn HTML and CSS. Most of the work that happens in production is boring too. But, the boring tasks need a lot of practice.

2. Understand that everyone struggles with resistance

Comparison is the thief of joy. It's easy to compare yourselves to a senior and established developer and feel that you can never be like that.

Remember, they also went through the same fears, struggles and feelings. Who knows, they may also be going through self-doubt and anxiety! As a developer, your main goal is to learn to code, not focus on what others are doing.

Everyone who has a body experiences Resistance - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

Do not look up and get overwhelmed. If you're a beginner developer, looking at complex projects and apps can demotivate you. That's because you're trying to see the hilltop from a valley. Do not focus on becoming someone. Try to do something.

Grandiose fantasies are a symptom of Resistance. They're the sign of an amateur. The professional has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work. - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

3. It's not a one-day battle

Resistance has to be fought anew, every day. Not every day is the same. Some days are really overwhelming. Some of you may be learning to code with a full-time job or other responsibilities. Every day is a new day and a chance to move ahead.

Had a bad day, yesterday? Forget it and start afresh.

RESISTANCE NEVER SLEEPS - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

4. The best opportunity is most likely one step ahead of your worst setback

We all have problems. Some of them seem like the worst and can be devastating. The COVID Pandemic was one that caused a lot of distress at a collective level.

But, all this can be conquered when you conquer Resistance. Keep this in mind - the fight is not over as long as you're alive.


5. Do not Rationalize.

Rationalization means attempt to explain or justify (behaviour or an attitude) with logical reasons, even if these are not appropriate.

As a developer struggling to learn a new technology or programming language, understand that it's hard. It's going to be tough and that should not be an excuse for you to drop it or go in search of an easier technology.

Many of you may be trying to juggle a full-time job, personal responsibilities and study. But, remember to keep your eyes on your goal - becoming an expert Developer.

What Resistance leaves out, of course, is that all this mean s diddly. Tolstoy had thirteen kids and wrote War and Peace. - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

6. Put yourself out there and cut through criticism

Are you learning web development? Share your journey publicly. Are you building projects? Talk about it. Make connections. People out there must know you exist.

It can be difficult. You may get criticized and mocked by people who don't even know to write a "Hello World" program. Be your own critic.

Individuals who are realized in their own lives almost never criticize others. If they speak at all, it is to offer encouragement. - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

There's a slight difference between showing off and putting yourself out there. The former is mostly boastful and condescending. It may border being unethical too if you try to show off things that you can't do.

A professional's work has style; it is distinctively his own. But he doesn't let his signature grandstand for him. His style serves the material. He does not impose it as a means of drawing attention to himself. - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

7. The path to mastery is alone at first but not always

When you embark on a new journey, you may be alone. But, fret not, you'll soon discover similar people and some may even join you. Keep the faith and go ahead.

Here's the trick: We're never alone. As soon as we step outside the campfire glow, our Muse lights on our shoulder like a butterfly. The act of courage calls forth infallibly that deeper part of ourselves that supports and sustains us. - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

8. Fall down if you must but once. Not more than that.

There may be some bad days that force you to miss practice or work for a day. If it's something real and needs more than a day - gladly take it. But if it's lethargy or aimlessness that forces you to do it, don't skip studying/building for more than a day.

The professional has learned better. He respects Resistance. He knows if he caves in today, no matter how plausible the pretext, he'll be twice as likely to cave in tomorrow. - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)

Top comments (0)