034 - How To Get Unstuck When You’re Learning To Code

19 Sep, 2017

Getting stuck when you’re learning to code on your own can be FRUSTRATING!! Here are some tips on how to get help.

TIP #1 - Google

This one goes without saying, but it’s worth starting here first. Start searching with specific terms, then get more broad if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

TIP #2 - Rubber Duck It

Walk through your code out loud to an inanimate object (like a rubber duck!) and pose your question. As you’re asking the question, the answer might come to you.

TIP #3 - Slack Communities

Slack is a chat & collaboration platform used by a lot of people in tech. Some public groups include CodeNewbie, Code Buddies, and Career Change Coders. You can also search around for language-specific or local Slack communities. Once you’re in, join the channels that are focused on the languages or tech stack you’re learning.

TIP #4 - FreeCodeCamp Message Boards

FreeCodeCamp has a great, supportive community. If you’re working on FCC projects there are scores of people out there who can help when you get stuck. If you’re not working on FCC projects, chances are you’ll still get some help.

TIP #5 - StackOverflow, Reddit, etc.

Join StackOverflow or Reddit to participate on their boards. Be sure to check their guidelines for advice on forming a good post to increase the odds you’ll get a good answer. And of course, search first to make sure an answer to your question is not already out there!

TIP #6 - Revisit What You’ve Already Learned

Review whatever book, tutorial, docs, etc. that you learned your skills from. Doing so might jog your memory of other things to try, or you might find that you missed something important the first time around. If that doesn’t work, try learning the same topic through another medium–if you originally learned by watching a video tutorial, try a book! Different sources and different media may help you find a solution to your problem.

TIP #7 - Take a break!

Work on a different project, go to sleep, go for a walk…do anything to clear your mind of the topic at hand. Come back refreshed and you may find discover the answer you’ve been looking for.

TIP #8 - Join A Group

This takes a bit of fore-planning, but join a group and build a crew of people you know you can go to with questions when you have them. Check out Start Over Coder episode 9 to hear more about this.

TIP #9 - Pay For Help

As an absolute last resort, you can pay for on-demand assistance at sites like Hack Hands and CodeMentor. Costs start at about $1/minute. But I’d use caution here–you may get things working but you may learn less!

Getting stuck when you’re learning programming and be very discouraging–honestly it’s a reason many people give up! But sticking to it when things get difficult will help you learn a lot, and it’s much easier to do if you get some help.

Thoughts on this episode? Any other methods you have for getting unstuck? Leave a comment below or tweet me @startovercoder.