In the Zone

Charles has a great post today about being in that programming zone where everything just flows effortlessly:

Sometimes, you just have one of those days. One of those days where you manage to find flow, and stay in it. One of those days where you move from test, to code, back to test, back to code with ease. One of those days when you don't feel like you're fighting the environment (the fact that I didn't have to do any EJB work helped there).

I LOVE that sensation. The "zone", "hack-mode", "zenning out". I'm a complete addict of this sensation. I'll have a few days a month where I can really get into it like that and then I spend the rest of the time trying to figure out what to do (or drink, or eat, or whatever) to get me back into the zone again.

It's like a super power, really. But it's more like Shazam than Superman... it only arrives when it's needed. You're desperately behind schedule, thinking "PLEASE let me get this code worked out" and then SHAZAM! Out of the blue it arrives... You can feel it coursing through your veins (or is that cafeine... no. You're not jittery, you're pumped). Suddenly you grok everything you're working on. You pump up the volume on the House, grab another cup of legal stimulant and go to work. You've got 30 windows open at the same time, you know where EVERYTHING is. The structure of your mind changes and suddenly all that varied code that was a jumbled mess before arrives in your head as one big picture. You start writing code that you only have a glimmering of how it really works and then you hit "build" and it compiles without errors. You crank away like this ignoring everything around you for hours on end. Producing more than you've produced in the past month entirely... You're completely absorbed. You're coding in your mind while taking a pee break. You glare at anyone around you threatening to break the flow. "Don't bother me NOW. I'm CODING." Like Charles said, you leave comments to yourself like "You will have no idea how this works tomorrow." It's awesome.

Man, if only I could program like that every day.


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