Process of learning code: it doesn't make sense and then it just does?

Has anyone else experience this roller coaster while learning code? I feel like for me it’s like it just doesn’t make sense and then suddenly it does; it’s hard every day and then one day it’s easy.

It reminds me of when I was learning Russian in Russia many years ago. The classes were hard and everyone struggled. But then when we went out into St Petersburg, we would suddenly just be speaking, using words we didn’t even realize were committed to memory.

Thoughts? Is this what happens as our dendrites branch out in our brains? Does there come a point when it’s always easy or does there come a point when it stops getting easy?


As of what I’ve seen, its rather common to feel that way. I myself feel that way many times, especially when I’m watching a tutorial and debugging.
And like you said, it’s not just limited to programming. I’ve felt this in Science (mostly Physics) and Maths as well, and even in things such a forum posts (If i decide to edit this post later, now you know the reason).
Now, I’m not sure whether i have any of the answers to the questions you asked, but i want you to know that you’re not alone. And while it may be frustrating to not be able to understand something at first glance, nothing quite beats the satisfaction of that moment when you finally realize what it truly meant.
Perhaps this happens because the more we (human beings) think about something, the deeper we start to dig and therefore we find more relations(?). Or perhaps some complex topics catch us so off guard that they don’t make sense at first glance. Perhaps some require out of the box thinking. Perhaps some were based on a concept we didn’t know about then but go to know later. Or maybe we’re just smarter and more experienced now then we were before.
These are all speculations made by me, however, so take them with a grain of salt.
In either case, as long as it makes sense in the end, i guess it doesn’t matter?

Sorry about the messy post btw. For some reason, im having a bit of trouble expressing myself ATM.

I have a very limited understanding of the exact brain processes involved in learning, vis a vis dendrites, axons etc, but I’ve read some interesting books on the psychology of learning and on some of the physical processes involved in the workings of the brain. It’s certainly a fascinating subject.

My very basic understanding is that all new tasks which we have to learn initially require conscious explicit effort in the cerebrum (the large outer folds of the brain), before eventually becoming embedded in implicit memory in the cerebellum, where they can be recalled with minimal conscious input.

There’s also the well-worn maxim ‘neurons which fire together, wire together’, meaning that constant repetition of the same brain processes creates permanent connections. The brain is incredibly plastic, even into old age apparently!

One important factor in this learning process is consolidation. So, cram, cram, cram new information and then pause and allow for consolidation, whereby the new information starts to be absorbed unconsciously and can eventually become implicit (or second nature), recalled from the cerebellum (the more evolutionarily primitive part of the brain).

As a musician who has to work a lot with memory and extreme fine-tuning of technique and nuance, I often find the cram and consolidate method extremely effective. Often, it’s the time spent sleeping, walking, engaging in totally unrelated activities, which allows muscle memory to form, so I can then go back to the music and my hands will ‘know’ what to do, freeing my conscious brain to engage in other activities whilst I play. This can also be referred to as a ‘flow state’.

This can be applied to any manner of tasks, whether its speedcubing, coding, archery or tying your shoelaces.


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