Learning to code is like learning magic. When I first started, I couldn’t get enough of it. Kick out a few lines of text, and the computer responds! It sometimes still feels like that today. When it’s going well, it’s like I’m learning the deep secrets of the machine.

But there are times, in fact too many times, when it doesn’t feel so magical now.

I work for a large tech company. This may surprise you if you don’t program computers for a living — but much of the coding I do now isn’t very interesting. It’s routine. It’s boring. If you do program computers for a living, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Tech companies tend to prefer it this way. They want the work to be predictable. Predictable is good. Predictable is manageable. But also, predictable isn’t very magical.

No one I know got into computers thinking, What I want is to sit in a cube all day doing routine work over and over again!

We crave the magic. We long for the magic. Oh to find just that little spark of it again.

I realized all of this earlier in the week. As my team and I were doing a retro and planning meeting, I could see the listlessness among us. We decided to carve off a couple weeks from our normal obligations and simply focus on writing code. I also decided to take up a software side-project. I used to do this often when I was starting out. Feels like the right time to do it again.

I’m one week in on this, both with my team and with my side project. I do see signs of life again among myself and my fellow coders. It’s amazing what a small touch of magic will do for you, especially if you’re a programmer.