I’ve known for quite some time that I suffer from a habit that is common to many programmers. When I finish a challenging part of a program – after having spent an awful lot of time looking at incorrect output of one form or another – I find myself so surprised that things are working that I then spend a silly amount of time rerunning the program and admiring the correct output. It’s almost like I don’t believe that it’s really correct. When I eventually pull myself away from the programming equivalent of navel gazing, I find myself in a familiar, but unappealing, situation: I have a functioning, but incomplete system, and I need to add the next feature on the list to it. But adding another feature means that everything is going to stop working properly, and it’s going to take an awful lot of work to get back to another point where the system will be working properly. And so I stare and stare at the screen, semi-paralyzed by the thought of breaking my perfectly functioning (if incomplete) system. Of course, eventually I pull myself together, make the first stages of the necessary change for the new feature and then I’m away, only for the cycle to repeat itself when the system reaches its next stable state. I’ve come to realise that all I’m going through in such instances is the programming equivalent of writers block; the fear of setting pen to paper for fear of starting down the wrong track.

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