How I struggled to learn programming

and the lessons I learned along the way

I started programming when I was 18…and then I created my first program at 24. You might think that it’s an awesome program that took 6 years to make. Truth is, I spent most of the time learning and telling myself that I can’t do it, rinse and repeat…

The program that I wrote is a simple program to automate a boring task that I have been doing daily…All it took was a passion called [I hate routine work], and YouTube where I copied 90% of the code and called it mine.

It wasn’t easy, programming is scary…It took me another 3 years before I’m confident enough to make my own game. Mind you I was still considered a beginner when it comes to programming, but what gave me the confidence is because of the few lessons that I have learned along the way.

#1 - It’s not rocket science

  1. Programming languages [C#, Java, Python…] doesn’t matter.
  2. Programming is simply a tool to solve problems.
  3. Programming is hard if you want to be the next Picasso.
  4. Programming can be easy too.

Yes…programming can be easy…Not everyone has to be a genius. The hacker kid that you read on the news is not a norm, and I can assure you that 99% of adult programmers can’t replicate what he/ she did.

At its core, programming is a no-nonsense language where you communicate with the computer. Imagine that one friend/ colleague that you always have to tell them what and how they should do something, magnified that by 100 times and you get programming.

#2 - Talking to a computer is weird

Let’s have a look at an Excel table. What we’re trying to solve here is to combine both Last & First names. Instead of writing it down manually, I used the code “concatenate” to combine both. You might have already noticed that there’s no space between the names, and that’s the difference between humans and computers.

Humans are very good at understanding nuances. We can understand simple instructions like “stop at red light” when crossing the road while a computer will need more instructions like what to do if it’s not a red light? what to do if there’s no light at all?

The reason why programming is scary is that it’s different, our brain is not used to talking like this as we often rely on nuance and body language…but get this, just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s hard. The key here is to train our brain so that it’s used to giving clear instructions to the computer.

#3 - We learn best when we’re solving “our” problem

Now that you know programming can be easy, let’s do a simple exercise:

  1. Instead of googling “How to learn to program”
  2. Try google the problem that you want to solve.
  3. Don’t have a problem to solve?
  4. Recall your daily life, anything that makes you go ah…I wish I don’t have to do this!
  5. Now, can that problem be solved via programming?
  6. If it’s related to computers or smartphones then it’s usually solvable.
  7. What are you waiting for? Start Googling!

Have you tried the exercise above? You’ll be surprised how a lot of your problems already have a solution online, ready to be learned for FREE.

The key is to start programming, make something simple that you can actually use. A lot of the problems can actually be solved with minimal programming knowledge, which is always a good way to kickstart your journey.

I hope you find this article helpful. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram if you’re interested to learn about useful technology that can be applied in your daily life.

Indie game developer. I write about games and technology that can be used in our everyday life.

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