I don’t know about you guys, especially the beginners, but this learning part of coding  is hard. Not impossible, but hard.

By that I mean the kind of coding you do from memory alone, and not having to constantly look at your previous coding examples that you’ve coded from previous examples that you’ve coded from previous examples. At this stage, it’s parrot fashion. Like anything, really, it’s muscle memory. Type out public static void main(String[] args) { often enough and you don’t have to think about it. It gets more complicated as it goes along, because every feature in Java has its own little quirk. It’s a very consistent language, and we as humans are only consistent in that we make stupid little errors all the time. Naturally, as you get better, chances are your errors decrease in frequency.

I learn Java auditory. I’ve got to remember everything I hear and then repeat type it in another window. Then I have to double, triple check to make sure I’ve got it exactly write, otherwise the program doesn’t compile. Seriously, I spend most of the time correcting little mistakes that make all the difference. Knowing when to use a semicolon, or when to use a brace, stuff like that—that’s the biggest killer. I wish I could actually see it to visualise it, but since I can’t, it’s a lot more laborious; it all comes down to keeping track of the code.

Terry & TJ On the IMGN Couch

What I hate is not having the ability to be able to visually compare the example I’m working from to the code I’m writing. It can take minutes to find one missing or extra bracket, or an extra space. My screen reader is set to read all punctuation, but it’s a blur of characters, and you’ve got to try and take a sort of audio image of what it said previously with your current project. It’s like playing one of those memory games. A solution I’ve recently come up with is to copy-paste the example I code from into notepad++. This makes it easier to write code from the web with less mistakes. What’s cool about JAWS (my screenreader) is you can toggle settings for each different app, like the level of punctuation it should read out, or whatever. Naturally, it wouldn’t be logical to toggle the punctuation setting on the web browser, because there’s other content around the code that is unnecessary to know where the commas and brackets are. I needed to find a dedicated text editor, and as much as people here at work despise notepad++, it works for me as a reference.

I’ve been here at IMGN for a month, and learnt a lot, and mastered not a lot of it. There’s a joke that flies around the office that I should be billable by the end of February or I’m out, to which I reply, “well, who needs a Hello, world app that badly?”

Luckily, I’m not alone. I’m not the first to hit little snags, and I won’t be the last. I’m writing this because if you’re out there and you’re feeling the same doubts, or you have those days where you lose complete faith and don’t believe in what you’re doing, then I’m right with you. We all get those days, even those who’ve been doing this for years. But there’s nothing like the feeling of mastering something you’ve been struggling with. Nothing like a programme that comes together and runs smoothly.Dané & Terry on the IMGN Couch

And if I’ve learnt anything recently, it’s that if you’re struggling with something, especially in the beginning stages, then strip it down. Do it bit by bit. One step at a time. The feeling you get when accomplishing something small is encouraging. It motivates you to try something more expansive, and so on.

When it comes to the whole concentration thing, I won’t deny my attention span kind of sucks. Music grounds me a lot. Rhythmic, energetic beats go a long way to keeping me intensely focused on what I’m doing. It’s like constant comfort food for the brain. I need other, external stimuli to replace the visual stimuli that I lack, so it’s common place to see me bobbing my head to the music as I code, or tapping my foot. ( I be chair-raving, yo!)

So yeah, you guys have your coping mechanisms, as well as ways of learning. So do I. I doubt that there’s a real, fundamental difference.