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There is already a couple of questions here about motivation, but they are related to programming as a job, teamwork and so on.

I have been noticing, that in the past few years my motivation to code hobby projects is decreasing. It was already decreasing about something like 8 years ago, then it got better about 4 years ago, now it is starting to get bad again. Since I do not work, lack of motivation in a job isn't a problem.

The projects I am interested in developing are a couple of computer games, and a ORM library for php. I want to program those things, but I feel like I lost the energy to do them.

The symptoms are stuff like: unable to concentrate, coding for about 30 minutes then leave the project to do other stuff, loss of pleasure in doing the whole thing, among others.

This thing bothers me, because it is (or used to be) something that make me feel happy and I don't wanna lose the good feeling of doing something that I like.

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closed as not constructive by gnat, Jarrod Roberson, gbjbaanb, Walter, JeffO May 23 '12 at 22:01

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Out of curiosity; are you in the middle of a project? Are you in the grunt work stage? –  John MacIntyre May 23 '12 at 18:27
I don't know what you mean, but right now I am looking forward to develop a couple of projects that I already started, so I think that I am in the middle of a project. –  Victor May 23 '12 at 18:33
Basically, I mean, the long march between the excitement of starting a project & the excitement of finishing it. ... in other words 'the work'. If that's where you're at ... you need to push through. –  John MacIntyre May 23 '12 at 18:36

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

First of all, remember that a programmers main task is not to write code. It's to solve problems. Find a problem that you have personal interest in and try to solve it with some application you create. That way you'll have more interest in what you're doing.

Secondly, programming is a huge field with many different specialties. If it's just a hobby to you, than why not try something new? Have you considered a different paradigm, like, functional programming with Haskell or Lisp? Have you tried any low level stuff like Assebler or maybe micro controller programming, e.g., Arduino? Do you like puzzles? Try Brainfuck or Whitespace. Consider graphical programming with Labview. There's a ton of languages you can try.

And if that doesn't interest you, try to dig deeper into some related fields, like, design, cryptography, computer science. It may give a broader perspective on programming and help you discover things you haven't thought of before.

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The new language/paradigm idea seems to be a good one, when I was writing this question I even thought about it. Good point. –  Victor May 23 '12 at 19:40

My answer for How do you know when you are tired of programming in your life? may help you, but for the most part, if it's a hobby, why force it? Maybe you should just move on to something you're inspired to do.

Edit: If you're in the middle of a project, and you're just grinding along and don't seem to be making progress, then you need to push through it. For that, I find the Pomodoro Technique is helpful keeping me focused.

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I don't know which other things I am inspired to do..... –  Victor May 23 '12 at 18:20
Then read. Personally I ebb & flow between consumption & creation. Consume good stuff until you're inspired to create. :-) –  John MacIntyre May 23 '12 at 18:24

It depends on you.

Personally, I've found that the best motivation is forcing a scope on myself. Too often I look at all of the things that need to be done and either can't pick one or am overwhelmed with the amount of them. Setting the scope provides me a goal: "by end of this coding session I want X to work". Then I work towards that goal. No distractions, no scope creep, no worries about all of the other things that need to be done. Baby steps towards completion.

Another thing that works (for me) is telling others what I'm doing. There's the sense of pride then to drive me to do what I said I'm going to do.

But different people have different demotivators; different work ethics and environments. Still, more often it's not about motivating yourself as much as eliminating the demotivators/distractions.

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I have two hobby projects I have been working on and recently I am doing very little progress even if I like these projects and especially one I would like to see completed as soon as possible.

Why is this happening? Because I also work as a full-time programmer for a living and I find it difficult to motivate myself to spend extra hours in front of a computer after having programmed about 40 hours during the week: during the weekend I prefer to go out, organize a grill party, meet friends, and so on.

I am pretty sure that if I took three weeks vacation I would probably start to work on my hobby project during the second or third week.

To make it short, maybe you just have a problem of saturation and you need to stay away from your hobbyist programming projects for a while. If you forget about them long enough, when you go back to them you might find them interesting and exciting to work on again. Just my 2 cents.

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