Seriously, you need to code every day if you want to be good

April 24th, 2011

When I was younger, I wanted to be a comic book artist, something I think most comic fans want when they’re younger. But, I wasn’t a great artist when I first started drawing, well, even a good one. I compared my work as a 12 year-old to Jim Lee and decided that I wasn’t good enough to draw comics. The thing I didn’t understand back then and it would take me years to realize, Jim Lee worked damn hard to get that good, he wasn’t great from the start. When I was in school and we were learning ActionScript and Flash, I would spend a lot of time looking at what the top Flash developers were doing and getting frustrated when I couldn’t build the same things.

Eventually I bought Colin Moock’s Essential ActionScript 3.0 and I worked my way through it from front to back, almost every day. That’s when I made a huge leap from beginner to experienced programmer. Not only because of the information I got from the book, but also from training my brain to think in code. This is how I got to the point where, for the most part, I’m able to start writing the code in my head as soon as I know what I’m going to be building. This is the point I think you can stop considering yourself a beginner, when you don’t have to search Google to figure out where to even start with your code.

This isn’t something that’s ground breaking or just applies to coding. If you want to be a good artist or writer, you have to do it every day. It’s simple and you would think it would be more obvious then it is, but I’m amazed at how many people I talk to that think that you’re either good at coding or you aren’t. That the fact you can’t build an amazing game using ActionScript or JavaScript your first time, then you aren’t ever going to be able to do it. I remember watching Lee Brimelow’s gotoAndLearn tutorials and being amazed at how quickly and simply he was able to code things up. I couldn’t figure out why he was able to do that and I wasn’t. I didn’t realize it was experience and the drive to get better that I needed to get there.

It’s doesn’t have to be something big. Sometimes you can learn more from a quick ten minute coding session then you can from a 6 hour one. Concepts that I’ve struggled to understand, I’ve figured out while messing around on jsbin while watching a baseball game. That’s all you have to do, just pick something you want to learn and mess around for a while. Sometimes I give myself a project, something I haven’t done before, so that I force myself to learn concepts and techniques I haven’t needed yet, but might need in the future.

Code every day. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. Try something new. Maybe you’re coding at work, but if you’re like me, then you’re not getting the opportunities to do new things as frequently as you would like. And now that I’ve increased my JavaScript and jQuery knowledge on my own time, I’ve been able to suggest things at work to clients because I already have the knowledge to build them.

One Response to Seriously, you need to code every day if you want to be good

  1. Gaurav says:

    Hello,

    I just stated out as newbie in this web development sphere and I really passionate about gaming. I was trying to build a game in html5 with js , but the complexity and confusion in js really made me angry and I gave up. But after reading your thoughts , I am sure I can get over my fear of javascript and jquery , if i really work towards it and I will do that. Thanks for your words of inspiration.

    cheers

    gaurav

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