We have an on-going series on The WP Crowd where we talk about how you can level up as a WordPress Developer. It started with one of our podcast episodes. It is also something I personally have talked about at WordCamps.
In most of our discussion we bring up how building out that first theme or plugin is the best first step. Whether you are making a child theme to learn how to modify the CSS, or you are using a starter theme to build out a new project, taking that first step into code is crucial.
There is another tip that I haven’t given to anyone, but everyone in my developer circle does it. Building something for a laugh is a great way to learn something new, or just refresh yourself in something basic. Since my group of friends are primarily lovable a*holes, a lot of their projects are really built to troll.
It pains me to write this therefore acknowledging its existence, but this post wouldn’t be complete without it.
A while back I was trying to troll my friend Shawn Hooper and was pinging him everywhere with “Hi Shawn”. I barraged his text messages, every Slack channel we were both on, Facebook messenger, and I think even Skype. This is where my former friend, now arch-nemesis Chris Wiegman comes in, he sees what I’m doing and eventually turns it around on me. My friends latch onto his Sith-like darkness and take off with it. Rachel Carden was one of the souls that got caught up in it and spent some time creating the worst website in the world, http://hiroy.club.
While I now side glance anyone that says hi to me, I have to admit, it was epic, and I got to give Rachel so much credit for pulling it off. The story of discovery is also pretty funny, but ping her (or me without saying hi) and ask.
This one is not as painful to talk about. The origin of this story comes from WordCamp Montreal 2015. At the after after-party with Shawn Hooper (he comes up a lot), Mike Corkum and Meagan Hanes. I think Mike and Shawn originally came up with the idea at a previous WordCamp, but throw Meagan and I into the mix, and you have an idea come to life. FighterJet.io (yes its a real website), was born. We were going to invent the fastest most lightweight PHP framework ever, and all it would do, is exit. Mike put up the core code, and immediately we started to send in Pull Requests via GitHub for new functions, methods, and classes that would help make our framework better.
I wasn’t going to mention this website, but I needed a non-troll example. This website was something I built after just wanting to throw up SOMETHING for the community. It started out as a quick idea, had a long runway but finally took off into our podcast. Once we were going steady on our podcast, we decided to add this blog. When I work on this website, or its next iteration (coming soon) it is purely for fun. It is to get my head out of my day job and into something that brings me joy. Maybe I need to connect this back to our Mental Health podcast, but sometimes coding can keep you from going nuts from coding.
I’m not going to say that you can always learn something new from a fun project that is clearly just built for laughs (or to troll), but its not impossible.
The morale of this “lesson” if you will, is that in the process of leveling up, don’t forget to have some fun with code. Code can get monotonous, it can get boring, and hitting walls a lot does get old. Doing something fun and easy is a great way to get out of your current struggling mindset and do something that you can complete or easily put work into.