Why do you want to be a programmer? The raw ingredients

I see lots of posts around the web about people who are interested in learning to program.  From the questions they ask you can tell they have aspirations to be the next best thing since sliced bread.  While all of this unharnessed enthusiasm is great we all need a sense of reality.  So, what does it take to be a programmer?

Compass and map – Photo by Himesh Kumar Behera on Unsplash

Ask 10 programmers what it takes to be a great programmer and they will, and do, give you 10 different answers.

We all have our own view of what it means to be a programmer.  In truth the world of programming is hugely diverse and each aspect has its own demands.  This is perhaps the appeal of programming, the diversity and opportunity to find a place no matter what your particular passion.  However, when you are starting out you need to focus on the basics.  It’s a case of learning to walk before you can run.  And for that it’s down to basics – what is programming all about?

If you love to solve problems, if you love logic, if you love building things by assembling components, if you love to learn … then you will probably have the passion to gain sufficient traction to be a successful coder.

If you are doing this because someone told you there are lots of jobs in this field and you can make lots of money, well that may well be true but you may find it a hard and frustrating struggle to get where you want to be.  It’s not impossible but you are more likely to succeed and enjoy the journey if you love what you do.

If you are doing this because you are sure you have a great idea for the next killer app that is going to take the world by storm, then let me sound a note of caution.  Many people think they have the next great thing – trouble is, what works and what doesn’t can be a very fine line.  If you really do have a great idea and you truly believe it is going to make your fortune, then don’t learn to code, find someone who can code and pay them to build it.  You are clearly interested in the success so don’t waste time learning to code, go straight to the success part and collect the money.

To be a great coder takes time and application, it is a craft.  There are many excellent coders in the world and many of them will never work on a killer application but they will work with a great bunch of people and build code they are proud of, code reused by many other people, code that will power the world we live in.  If you want to be part of this then code on.

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