How To Become a Rockstar Developer in 4 Easy Steps

Over the past little while, I’ve been receiving some great feedback about my work, and some people have been asking me about it; where did I study, how did I get into it, what’s the shortcut for that thing, etc. So I thought I would just answer everyone’s questions by giving you step-by-step instructions on how you can achieve everything that I have.

Ready? Here we go!

Step 1: Get a real text editor

This is a big one and likely one you’ve heard before. You will be spending a lot (and I mean pretty much all) of your time in here, so do yourself a favor and customize it so that you’re not doing things like typing for (var i = 0; i < whateverTheThing.length; i++) { } out every. single. time.

Step 2: Information diet

This is especially true for when you’re around rockstar developers who are casually talking about whatever-the-latest-thing-that-just-came-out-that-they-just-built-into-their-side-project-last-night.

Is what they’re talking about related to your current work? No? Then smile and nod, or avoid listening altogether.

Do not ever let yourself feel inferior or like you need to drop what you’re doing to go learn that thing. Odds are it will likely be replaced by something more exciting next week anyway.

Step 3: Have your dreams crushed

And not just crushed; pulverized. When the black-hoodie-wearing-developer who is the known genius at work, and who bluntly tells you that the app you want to build that you think is going to change the world and make you rich and famous … won’t.

Start writing code more regularly. Even though you know you have a pretty good grasp on HTML and CSS, do it until you have your own opinions on how it should be structured. Watch videos and read articles. Atomic Design. Atomic CSS. Design Patterns. OOCSS. Take notes on things you want to start adapting into your code. Make edits. Refresh. Review. Commit. Watch more videos, read more articles. Make more edits. Save. Refresh. Review. Commit. Go to bed.

The assignments that used to challenge you now only take a fraction of the time. You spend the rest of your time learning about a new technology and figuring out how to tackle the same problems in a different way. You used to want to change the world. Now you just learn about how to write code.

Watch your life as it shrinks down to four things: 1.) writing code 2.) reviewing code 3.) testing code 4.) going for walks, emailing, eating, and sleeping.

Black-hoodie-wearing-developer snaps a question your way one day about the reason why you’ve structured code in a certain way. You give him your reasoning, and watch his face change as he digests your response and looks for holes in its theory. After a few moments, he quietly says, “Oh. I see.” and turns back to his machine. You smile to yourself, put on your headphones, and queue up Thunderstruck by AC/DC.

You buy a book on algorithms, data types, and structures as you start to get more serious about writing JavaScript. You start to fundamentally understand how to structure prototypes with useful functions and instance variables. You share your findings by educating the team and spark interesting discussions in a group setting. Developers, who you didn’t even know sat around you, join in the discussion and ask really great questions. You are amazed by how much talent and intelligence surrounds you.

Some developers begin to ask you to review their code. They setup meetings to go over some things with them and provide examples for how they should think about the problem. You realize that some people think about problems differently, and that you need to adjust your style depending on who you’re speaking to. Baby-cactus’-on-her-desk-developer is a wizard with sass mixins and functions. Puppy-and-cat-meme-lover-developer write super terse code because he’s a mathematical genius.

One night, you work until 2am without realizing it. You’ve reviewed code for 4 developers, and commit +1,300 lines of code to your side project with the message “I am a God” by accident. You git commit amend hoping everyone who receives the automated emails filter them to a folder they never actually read — and are thoroughly disgusted with yourself.

Late one Friday afternoon you are sending off your last few emails to some project managers, providing a status on the state of your work and your team. You realize that it’s not about creating the next best app, or getting revenge on that jerk developer. It’s about being able to wait. Waiting, being patient, and trusting that life will slowly inch along and that you will become that rockstar developer. After all, change takes time. But time is all it takes.

“After all, change takes time. But time is all it takes.”

Step 4: Use a dark theme

Because no rockstar developer codes on a white background.

A fair portion of the events described in this article are fictitious. The format of this article is completely inspired by Aaron Bleyaert’s article on losing weight. The motivation for this article comes from a few things my colleague, Josh Demolar, wrote in his.

Corrine Toracchio is a UI Manager at Level, a purpose-driven digital design firm. She enjoys reading code, writing code, and teaching others how to be rockstar developers.
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