Getting Over the Programming “Hump”

Beating the infamous programming hump: here's how

When you first start programming, you probably won’t have a clue as to what you’re doing. Your journey of teaching yourself to code is one that will lead you over many ups and downs. The biggest programming “hump” you’ll face will almost certainly be the first.

What is “the hump”?

The hump is a mental hill that you need to climb. Learning to code is like a steep hike. The beginning stretch is all uphill and overgrown. It’s hard and you can’t see how much farther you need to climb, and this is where most people give up. It will feel as though you’ll never really learn how to code—you’ll always be dependent on tutorials for every little project you attempt.

This is not the case. In the beginning you’ll likely find yourself copying code line by line from YouTube tutorials, but it won’t stay that way if you push through.

Comment your code

Commenting your code may seem like a pain, but not only is it a good habit to get into, it can also do wonders for your understanding. I recently experienced this again, despite having gotten over the programming hump several years ago.

I was building a server with the help of a tutorial, and afterwards I went through and commented all of it. Explaining all the logic in plain English immensely improved my understanding of what was going on.

If you don’t know what comments are or you’re still not convinced of their value, check out my post about Commenting Your Code: How and Why.

Surround yourself with other programmers

Having access to others that can encourage you and help you is super beneficial. When I was starting out, I didn’t surround myself with other programmers, mainly because I didn’t know where to find them. If you’re in high school or university, look for an introductory programming class you can take. If that’s not an option, your best bet will likely be online.

While forums and sites such as Stack Overflow are great places to find answers to specific questions, it can take a while to get a response. This is not ideal if you’re trying to learn and make progress quickly, especially when you just have a very simple question.

Simply googling stuff can work well in that case, but consider joining my Discord server too. My goal is to build it into a supportive community of developers and a place where you can find help and share your projects. Come hang out!

Persistence is key

You need to be patient. The biggest determining factor of whether or not you’ll make it over that hump is how persistent you are. If you stick with it and consistently put in an effort to learn, you’ll get it.

The way you feel when it clicks and you finally understand what you’re writing is indescribable and empowering. It’s definitely worth the struggle of getting there. I can’t recall the exact moment when it clicked for me, but I do remember suddenly realizing that I knew what I was writing, and why.

Obviously, it won’t be completely smooth sailing after you beat the hump, but things get a whole lot easier. Don’t expect to be able to do it all on your own from that point, but you won’t need to research every line of code anymore.

And remember, if things do feel too easy, challenge yourself more. That’s the only way to keep improving your programming skills.