Practice as soon as possible

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Summary: Much of the difficulty of learning a new language is caused by knowing more than you are comfortable doing. It's so important to get started practicing real programming as soon as possible.

LispCast Introduction to Clojure gets you typing real Clojure in as soon as possible. It does this in a very gentle way. I did it because most skills in programming are physical. Think about it. Most of the coding is about closing braces or putting commas between things. These are physical skills. And physical skills are best learned by doing. You can't learn to play baseball from a book. At some point, you're going to have to pick up a bat.

When we're learning to program, there's a ton of stuff to keep track of. We're learning syntax. We're learning standard library. We may even be retraining our pinky to hit the semicolon more often. There's a lot to learn. But here's the thing: those are the boring things. They're ultimately not the most fascinating part of programming and they're probably not the reason we're trying to learn.

But, like learning to play the guitar, the physical component is important. You can't play guitar without strong fingers and you can't lean Clojure without good paren-matching skills. Clojure's parenthesis-oriented syntax might take some getting used to. And there are thousands of little things that need to be right for your code to run. Those things are frustrating.

LispCast Introduction to Clojure has broken down the skills you need to such a degree that you can start programming right away. At first your programs are very basic, but you're making stuff happen. Then you learn, one bit at a time, to write conditionals and functions, and other constructs. But the key is that you are coding as soon as possible as much as possible.

There are many books that will spend 10 pages on the syntax of the language. Intro to Clojure takes the opposite view: you should be writing 10 bits of code per thing you learn. It drills the microskills into your muscles so you can start focusing on what matters to you.

When you watch LispCast Introduction to Clojure, you might notice that the first 30 minutes of the lesson are super smooth. Yet at the end, you can look at any Clojure code and know how to read it. You might not know exactly what it does, but it won't look alien. Many people have told me how surprised they were reading Clojure code after finishing the first video. And all that without referring to syntax charts. Like students practicing on the guitar, after a short time the chords feel natural.

There's something I regret about Intro to Clojure. I made a mistake and took too long to get started in the first lesson. I focused a lot on explaining how to use the course instead of jumping right it. That means that it's about 8 or 9 minutes in before you type anything. That's way too long! Still, the course is great. It still gets you started more quickly than most things out there.

I used to sell LispCast Introduction to Clojure separately, but now it's part of the PurelyFunctional.tv Online Mentoring program. You can buy access to Intro to Clojure and the rest of the program for \$25/month. When you're finished with Intro and want to take your skills further, there's plenty of material to work on.