Don't Make These Common Mistakes While Learning To Code

Don't Make These Common Mistakes While Learning To Code

Blake Yeboah
ยทAug 11, 2022ยท

6 min read

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In this article, we'll be covering 4 mistakes commonly made by people while learning to code that will seriously impact their coding journey.

#1 - Copying and Pasting

The first mistake I'll talk about is copying and pasting.

We've all done it. Don't deny it ๐Ÿ˜‰

There's nothing inherently wrong with copying and pasting code, as long as you understand how the code works to achieve what it does. While learning to code, its crucial that every piece of code you write, you understand how it works.

Otherwise, you're not really learning anything.

If you simply copy and paste a bunch of code from stack overflow to create a cool application, well done, you've created a cool application.

However, you don't understand how it works and haven't learned anything. You haven't progressed as a developer. If asked to speak through your code (e.g in an interview), you won't even know where to start.

It's very important that any code you copy from the internet, you should understand what every part does and be able to explain it to someone else (this really demonstrates your understanding).

#2 - Getting Stuck In Tutorial Hell

Tutorial Hell! We've all heard of it. But what actually is it? (you might be stuck in it and not even realize it ๐Ÿ˜ฌ)

Tutorial Hell is essentially where you are stuck in a state of watching plenty of tutorials. These could be on building projects, or just learning a new language/framework. But you aren't moving forward, since you keep simply re-creating the projects in the tutorial and following the exact instructions throughout without actually retrieving the knowledge and trying to apply it to your own projects.

The easiest way to get out of tutorial hell, is to simply think of project that is slightly more complicated than anything you have built. Then, using the knowledge you've learned, go out and try to build it.

Will you get stuck? Probably, but that's a good thing.

You'll learn how to solve problems and how to actually progress and apply your knowledge rather than just replicating code on a screen.

To put this into an example, so you can hopefully understand what I'm trying to say:

  • Lets say you watched a tutorial on how to build a to-do list in React and then you went out and built a to-do list by following the tutorial.

This is a fine first step, but next, to apply the knowledge you've just learned and progress further as a developer you could:

  • Build an expense tracker

An expense tracker is a completely different application than a todo list. However, when you break it down, it essentially requires very similar skills to building a todo list.

It requires handling state, handling user input, rendering state to the DOM exactly what building a todo list teaches you.

You may be thinking since it requires similar skills as a todo list that you won't learn anything by building it?

But, what you're not considering is how much you learn by going out and building an application without blindly following a tutorial and typing code.

You get used to getting stuck and figuring out how to solve the problem.

You get used to reading documentation and coming up with code on your own.

You will start to learn how the concepts you've learned in the tutorial can be applied to a range of other projects you may be interested in building.

Getting out of tutorial hell can be challenging, but as long as you aren't afraid of a challenge and your desire to become a developer outweighs your fear of failure, I'm sure you'll be fine.

#3 - Trying to Learn Too Much At Once

This mistake is very common. I see it all the time and am guilty of it myself.

When you are learning something new, its very important to learn one new technology at a time.

Imagine this:

You want to learn React but you don't know JavaScript. So you decide to learn both React and JavaScript at the same time.

This is a terrible idea because while learning "React" you are writing JavaScript that you don't even understand. You will have no idea whether what you're learning is a part of JavaScript or a part of the React library.

If you proceeded with this approach until you felt as though you have learned both, you may know React and be able to build projects with it. However, if someone asked you to build a todo list with vanilla JavaScript, you wouldn't know where to start.

Is JSX a part of JavaScript?

Can't I just create a Todo component in JavaScript?

How can I manipulate the DOM with JavaScript?

You see my point? Learning multiple things at once, especially interconnected things like JS and React, won't properly teach you either and you will have a much harder time learning later on since you will contradicting knowledge you thought you knew.

Another reason why you shouldn't try learning too much at once is because of how our brains work. We simply cannot absorb too much information at once.

Have you ever spent many hours learning something and then a few days later completely forget it?

This is just how our brain works. We need to take in information gradually and slowly build up our knowledge base.

My advice would be to:

  • Be patient, enjoy the learning process
  • Take time to learn technologies properly and understand them deeply
  • Don't try learning multiple technologies at once

#4 - Skipping The Fundamentals

Its very crucial that you learn the fundamentals of each language or framework you're learning. It can be very easy to skip over the basics and go into the more interesting and advanced concepts. However, you should always take your time to learn the fundmentals.

If you're learning a new language, don't skip over the basics like:

  • Defining variables
  • Creating and running functions
  • Defining and using types (not always applicable)
  • Printing text to the console/browser
  • Writing comments
  • etc

The fundamentals may be boring and easy, but in the end of the day, you have to lay the foundation before you build the house.

That covers the 4 mistakes you should be careful of making while learning to code. Learning to code is a challenging, timely process. Take your time, enjoy the process and you'll become a great developer some day.

๐Ÿ‘Œ Thanks for reading this article!

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