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As a developer, sometimes you hammer away on some useless solo side project for a few weeks. Maybe a small game, a web interface for your home-built storage server, or an app to turn your living room lights on an off.
I often see these posts and graphs here about motivation, about a desire to conceive perfection. You want to create a self-hosted Spotify clone "but better", or you set out to make the best todo app for iOS ever written.
These rants and memes often highlight how you start with this incredible drive, how your code is perfectly clean when you begin. Then it all oscillates between states of panic and surprise, sweat, tears and euphoria, an end in a disillusioned stare at the tangled mess you created, to gather dust forever in some private repository.
Writing a physics engine from scratch was harder than you expected. You needed a lot of ugly code to get your admin panel working in Safari. Some other shiny idea came along, and you decided to bite, even though you feel a burning guilt about the ever growing pile of unfinished failures.
All I want to say is:
No time was lost.
This is how senior developers are born. You strengthen your brain, the calluses on your mind provide you with perseverance to solve problems. Even if (no, *especially* if) you gave up on your project.
Eventually, giving up is good, it's a sign of wisdom an flexibility to focus on the broader domain again.
One of the things I love about failures is how varied they tend to be, how they force you to start seeing overarching patterns.
You don't notice the things you take back from your failures, they slip back sticking to you, undetected.
You get intuitions for strengths and weaknesses in patterns. Whenever you're matching two sparse ordered indexed lists, there's this corner of your brain lighting up on how to do it efficiently. You realize it's not the ORMs which suck, it's the fundamental object-relational impedance mismatch existing in all languages which causes problems, and you feel your fingers tingling whenever you encounter its effects in the future, ready to dive in ever so slightly deeper.
You notice you can suddenly solve completely abstract data problems using the pathfinding logic from your failed game. You realize you can use vector calculations from your physics engine to compare similarities in psychological behavior. You never understood trigonometry in high school, but while building a a deficient robotic Arduino abomination it suddenly started making sense.
You're building intuitions, continuously. These intuitions are grooves which become deeper each time you encounter fundamental patterns. The more variation in environments and topics you expose yourself to, the more permanent these associations become.
Failure is inconsequential, failure even deserves respect, failure builds intuition about patterns. Every single epiphany about similarity in patterns is an incredible victory.
Please, for the love of code...
Start and fail as many projects as you can.31
It's always fun to get contacted by someone who doesn't code and they want you to code an entire startup for them...
The fun part... Is they will pay you later when it generates money15