I’m deep in the coding phase on a couple of client projects right now, and once again I’m struck by how much I love this phase of a project. One day, I hope to hire a designer and focus primarily on coding and markup on my projects. I do enjoy design work, but time doesn’t fly doing that the way it does while programming.
Coding requires all my faculties and all my attention. I enter the “zone” better through coding than just about anything. It’s rare that I find writing absorbs me the way that coding does, although it has happened from time to time. Lately I think my habit of writing only in short fits is not conducive to entering the zone, so I’m going to have to start working on creating larger block of focus time for it.
What I mean by “the zone” is that beautiful state of being where your thoughts and actions are one, and time ceases to have meaning. Some folks call it “flow.” Even difficult things take on an aspect of effortlessness somehow when you’re in the zone. Gnawing over a particularly tricky bit can vanish an entire day sometimes –which is risky for me because I have schedules to maintain, so I can’t really get lost in coding work on client work. The best is when I’m tinkering or learning something new with no expectations and a clear schedule ahead of me; then it’s not like time goes fast, exactly. It’s more like time ceases to be a meaningful concept.
I really regret not learning more about programming earlier in life. In my first web design business, I resisted learning any real programming, instead focusing on design and markup writing (HTML — CSS barely even existed then). I left the programming to my two business partners. This wasn’t fair to them, and it cost me a lot to not develop that skill set earlier. If I got a do-over, that’s one thing I would definitely change for everybody’s sake.
Now that I know how to do it relatively well (and of course I’m always learning and improving), I can’t imagine myself ever giving it up. Programming is pure, distilled problem solving. Every aspect of it involves solving something or other, and that’s pretty much my favorite thing to do. I imagine in my dotage, Sarah will be doing crossword puzzles and I’ll have the laptop out, tinkering away on an app or redesigning my personal website for the 150th time. There are worse ways to spend a retirement…