Jordan A.

@J.Abluedot

6 Lessons self-taught developers can learn from J.D. Salinger

Tattoo The Catcher in The Rye by Thomas Gibsonx

Back in the day, when I was a teenager, the novel “catcher in the rye” was the most famous novel among students.

It was a hype in our school and it was banned in most of the schools.

I still remember the excitement I felt when I received the book through one of my friends. I had a week to read the whole thing because it was being shared and the copies were scarce.

Fast-forward to 2019, When I watched the movie “Rebel in the Rye”, I’ve realized some extraordinary factors regarding J.D. Salinger’s life that could enhance your productivity as a self-taught developer.

Anyone who is embarking on the journey of being a self-taught developer can benefit from what J.D. Salinger did back then.

He published only one novel in his lifetime, 1951’s The Catcher in the Rye, but what a novel it was.

Here are some interesting facts about “catcher in the rye” from BuzzFeed:

- Since it was first published in 1951, more than 65 million copies of The Catcher in the Rye have been sold.
- Around 250,000 copies of the book are sold each year, almost 685 per day.

1. Immersion is the key

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J.D. Salinger worked on “the catcher in the rye” while fighting in the World war II. He used to write, even in dangerous situations while the soldiers had to stay in a hole for days, but as he mentioned several times, thinking about his character was what kept him motivated and made him to progress well in his writings.

He once said:

“If it was not for this book, I could have died.”

Remember what was your first motivation when you first begin learning to code! Was it to improve your career prospects? an app idea? A relentless feeling of solving an annoying problem?

Whatever it was, thinking about it, will keep you on track and help you to completely immerse yourself in programming effortlessly.

2. Accept rejection

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on unsplash

There is a scene in the movie where J.D. Salinger’s professor tells him:

“You have to accept that you may never publish…
Can you do that for the rest of your life?”

People have so many reasons to learn to code and as a matter of fact, these motivations are similar to wannabe writers.

If you are in it to make a billion dollar app or create a unicorn start up right away, you won’t last long.

But if you have a knack for building things and want to use your creativity to solve problems, you are on the right track.

3. There will always be naysayers

“If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.” 
Frank Zappa

There will be people who tell you that you have no talent and you should give up.

Those who criticize instead of cheering you on. They are the people who will say “Are you out of your mind? This will never work. You are not cut out to be a programmer.”

J.D. Salinger’s father wanted him to pursue their family business and he always questioned his passion for writing.

You may have similar people in your life or even in your head (negative thoughts). We all have negative voices inside our head.

I remember all the down votes I’ve got on stackoverflow for my newbie questions from mean programmers. Sometime it made me feel bad but I’ve got through it by thinking on how easy it’s for them to forget that they were once a newbie themselves.

It’s really good that they are addressing this problem now.

I also got tremendous help from some positive programmers as well, but overall if you are learning something on your own, you have to expect these kinds of things from people who are trolls but you have to learn to overcome their unprofessional behavior.

At the end of the day,the only person that will help you is you, so make sure to strengthen your Inner spirit.

4. Remove distraction

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on unsplash

In case of J.D. Salinger it was people.

In your case, it might be people or other things like social media.

Use certain tools to manage your use of social media.This article will help you to do that.

In his book “Deep work”, Cal Newport mentions how removing distractions will help you achieve incredible results.

Here are some excerpts from his book:

“While Mark Twain wrote much of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in a shed on the property of the Quarry Farm in New York, where he was spending the summer. Twain’s study was so isolated from the main house that his family took to blowing a horn to attract his attention for meals.”
“Microsoft CEO Bill Gates famously conducted “Think Weeks” twice a year, during which he would isolate himself (often in a lakeside cottage) to do nothing but read and think big thoughts.”

5. Seek support (We all need mentors)

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Find a mentor or group of people that can support you when you feel down.

In case of J.D. Salinger it was his mother and his professor (Whit Burnett ) who mentored and motivated him to pursue his passion for writing. Actually, it was Whit Burnett who inspired him to write a novel based on the Holden Caulfield character.

For new programmers this support can come from online forums like /r/learnprogramming or freecodecamp.

You won’t believe how supportive people can be in these forums.

6. Meditate

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When J.D. Salinger got back from the war, he was suffering from PTSD
He had flashbacks of the war several times a day and this lead him to have initial feelings of fear, anger and confusion.

Those were the times that he experienced the writer’s block as well.

It was a life changing event for him, once he saw a group in the park meditating.after that encounter he got familiar with meditation and incorporated that into his own life.

Meditation helped him to overcome PTSD symptoms and improved his writing tremendously.

Learning to code can be a tough and lonely road. You may feel burned out and struggle to keep up with learning every day.

You may have felt tired and depressed or didn’t want to look at programming ever again.

Try to meditate 30 minutes a day. This will have a huge effect on your productivity.

Based on my own experience, walking is the best meditation.

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on unsplash
“It’s your road and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.” — Rumi
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