The other day I was approached by a friend of mine who was clearly in distress. She runs up to me and she says “Brendan, I can’t do it anymore. I’m so sick of programming.”
Ah, we know this feeling all too well. You slave over a project for hours and hours, only to be slammed to a screeching halt by a bug. Or heck, maybe you didn’t even know how to start your project. If you haven’t ever felt this way, I’m afraid to say that you’re doing something wrong.
At the very least, I’ve been in this situation plenty of times, and I consider myself a pro at controlling this anger. I do two very contradictory things when I get angered by my code:
Feed Off of the Stress
When I recognize that I’m about to explode, I actually don’t immediately give up. It’s super tempting for me to turn off my laptop and fire up Super Smash Bros., but I know that’s not best for me or my program. Personally, my brain works better under stress. You may find that this holds true for you, too. I recommend that you use your initial frustration as a “speed boost” – it might help you get things solved faster.
Step Away from my Computer
I know I just said that you should feed off of the stress. And it’s true, you should. But sometimes, you’ll get REALLY stuck. After working a little bit past my breaking point, I call it quits. If you genuinely believe that the solution you’re looking for is nowhere to be found, it’s time to step away for a bit. I find that once I hit this level of ungodly frustration, my brain no longer workers more efficiently – it actually tends to shut down. Super Smash Bros. might be a good call at this point. Even better, check out some other indie games for some innovative inspiration! 😉
The key is to know your limit. A good way to test this is to see when you start crying. Once you start crying, you know you’ve gone too far. Stop. Breathe in. Count to 10. Breathe out.
All jokes aside, your limit actually is related to your emotions. There’s a pretty clear line between frustration and hostility. Once you feel that your emotions are raging out of control, you’ve earned yourself a break. Don’t let coding become a chore. Make sure it stays a hobby.