One Line of Code
Two weeks ago, Ludum Dare happened. I tried making a thing and quickly realized that it had simply been too long since I’d coded anything. It wasn’t like LD August 2013 where I went in immediately after blazing through all of Codecademy and part of Catlike Coding. There were many, many cobwebs and sorting through them simply took too much real time to make jamming possible.
Rather than giving up, however, my thought was, “Let’s not let that happen again.” The problem was that I had gone so long without coding that I forgot what everything looked like, how everything pieced together.
I figured the best way to do that was to code every day, at least once per day.
I’ve found that as much as I wish I weren’t, I am easily overwhelmed by repetitive responsibilities. With crafting/shipping, I’ve broken it down to producing and packing orders about twice per week so that I don’t have to dread doing it every single day. I order inventory once a week, if that. I know that I shut down when I think, “Oh no, I have to do this all the time forever now,” because I’m pretty sure it goes against the idea of, “Work smarter, not harder,” and I truly loathe un-smart work.
So I thought, “Why not code just one line of code per day?”
So I did. Or, well, I have been. Every day since the start of Ludum Dare, making today Day 15. I’ve coded at least one line of code every day. Most days, it’s way more than that (my current project is around 200 lines of bug-free code that works as expected), but “success” simply looks like one more line of code than I had yesterday.
The idea is that by opening up Unity and MonoDevelop at least once per day, I’m giving my brain a chance to remember what it’s like. If I have passive problem-solving thoughts throughout the day, I’m also guaranteed at least one opportunity to make them happen, which is huge. It’s the “Journey of 10,000 Steps” proverb in action, one singular step at a time.
The difference between one-line-a-day and before is astronomical. If you’re struggling to make real progress, if you want to learn how to make games, if you constantly think, “I wish I could…”, then I implore you to try it. Seriously, just one line. Open it up, write a single line of new code, and if it’s not working for you that day just save and quit. I’m willing to bet that most days you’ll find yourself doing a lot more than that, however. Try it.