5 ways NOT to learn how to code

Learning how to code can be a challenging and rewarding experience, but with the wrong start it can be mostly demotivating and frustrating. I for one have been trying to learn how to code for years on end, and only recently feel like I am making real progress.

I was recently reflecting back on my approaches, trying to understand what didn’t work and why, and this article ended up sort of writing itself. Hopefully it’ll save you from making the same mistakes.

So here are some ways in which you should not learn how to code.

1. Not having a project to work towards

Some of the classes I took were centred only around learning syntax rules, and listing function after function for whichever programming language. No projects at all, nothing to ever build. This was beyond frustrating!

A better way is to start with a project – even the smallest one! For example you could use code to send messages to Discord in just a few hours. It’s fun and rewarding, and it’ll help to keep your motivation up while learning new things.

2. Copying and pasting code

Copying and pasting code from online tutorials or Stack Overflow or ChatGPT may seem like an easy way to learn how to code. Until you realise that this approach doesn’t encourage your brain to think!

When I started I was relying on copying and pasting code, without understanding how it works, and literally every time there was something wrong with it. And because I didn’t understand what the code was doing I was never able to fix it.

Focusing on understanding how the code works instead was the key to being able to use copy paste effectively. This is one of the reasons why we are building SplootCode in the first place, so that anyone can understand what the code is doing!

3. Trying to memorise code syntax

Memorising syntax rules without understanding the underlying concepts is another ineffective way to learn how to code. I have spent waaaay too many hours trying to brute force this, only to find that after a week away from the code everything seemed to have vanished.

A better approach is to just practice more and more, and syntax rules will just start to sink in the more you use them. While this can be a little more frustrating initially (since you’ll be googling a lot), it’ll ultimately become second nature.

And if you really can’t stand googling all day, SplootCode gives you all these rules handy right where you are writing your code, so you just don’t have to worry about it at all.

4. Rushing through exercises

I found trying to learn how to code too quickly both overwhelming and demotivating.

I have attended countless online classes, and got frustrated looking at how much stuff there is to learn before to see the code do something even remotely interesting. This made me madly rush through the exercises, thinking that I’d get to build something interesting faster.

Little did I know that this would just make it borderline impossible for me to ever get there. The purpose of exercises is not to tick the box, but to let concepts sink in!

So if you are following tutorials make sure you set some time aside, and remember: don’t hurry!

5. Not seeking help

I tried learning on my own for quite sometime and this is one of my biggest regrets. I was afraid to ask people, or to make mistakes and look silly, until one day I discovered various Discord and Slack communities where people are always welcoming and willing to help.

This made me feel silly for not having asked before. Every community I joined was ridiculously welcoming, and not only did I find more energy to learn how to code, but I even made friends!

While our community is still small, we’d love to have you onboard as well.

So reach out! You can find me on Discord.

Do you have any other ways to learn how to code that didn’t work for you? I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to shoot me an email mattia[@]splootcode.io