Building stuff is hard. Sometimes when you’re willing something into existence, you lose track of time. The days just roll into one another.

Maybe you’ll find the following scenario all-too familiar:

It’s 1am. The monitor is staring back at you. The cursor blinks on line 128, column 64. Over the past hour, the list of friends who are online on IM has been shrinking one by one. It’s the only reminder that there’s such a thing as normal working hours. In fact, your somewhat confused as to what day it is.

But you are so close, ever so close to getting that one thing working. Maybe it’s breaking ground on your new app. Maybe it’s a bug fix. Maybe it’s that cool new feature. Whatever “it” is, everything that’s swirling in your head will be lost in the morning. If you don’t press on now, you’ll lose the thread of the whole thing you’ve been working at all evening.

Anyone who’s ever been bitten by the creativity bug feels this kind of stuff in their bones. It’s a constant paradox between the idea you have in your head and the reality of what you have implemented.

As I think back to the experience of creating Corona from scratch 4 years ago, I can’t tell you how many nights were just like the one I described. For the first 18 months, it was just me, my laptop, and the Corona codebase. There were lots of tough moments, but one thing I believed in was this crazy idea that anyone should be able to create a mobile apps.

I’m sure you have your own crazy ideas too. (And hopefully, Corona’s helping you make it happen). You just have to keep at it day in and day out.

I came across this quote from Ira Glass recently that nails it:

What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

The only thing I’d add is: don’t forget to celebrate the tiny victories. It’s the simple things that keep you going for the long haul.

Speaking of which, I still haven’t celebrated Corona’s birthday (turned 4 last month). So without further ado:

Happy Birthday, Corona!

Perfect excuse to go get some cake! Like I said, the simple things :)

  1. Andreas von Lepel says:

    It was almost 3am, the AI of all the monsters was nearly finished and suddenly one of the bad guys just turned away from the hero and jumped over the next cliff to his death, a perfect suicide.

    And you know – the AI is NOT finished and don’t stop now, better start to dig into it again before you lose the connection to the more than complex code, even if it takes another 10 hours.

    This happened during developement of one of my games in the ’80s, and it still happens today in 2012. And the victories – if you wrestle these bugs to the ground – are still as good as 25 years ago. :-)

    I like Corona very much, I don’t have to spend my time with so much OS related programming but can concentrate on complex gaming mechanisms and creative artworks. So, thanks!

  2. I have always been awestruck that one person alone, Walter, took the complexity of Xcode and turned out Corona. For example that he could reduce the pages upon pages of Objective C required to do to a specific thing to just one line of Lua code for us to use. Having attempted to learn Xcode (and having failed badly), it is mind boggling to witness what he has achieved. I couldn’t begin to understand an Xcode version of my Corona app.

    I have a pro developer license and I do have some significant issues with Corona, but no matter what, I am very humbled by the brilliant mind that produced it.

    Thank you, Walter!

  3. Happy Coronal Birthday, Walter! Your italicized description of my every-single-night is very good. 😉 Best wishes,

  4. On behalf of our beloved Corona, thanks all!

    And glad to meet all of you folks who’ve been in the trenches!

    @Marty, curious to learn more about your issues, so sent you a note offline.

  5. I’m old school and Corona has brought back the fun I had with ZX Spectrums and Commodore 64s in those late hours trying to work out how to get some more juice out of the memory left in the computers tank.

    The next day I would go off to school and tell my friends about my new bit of code or take that cassette and load it at a friends house so they could play my latest masterpiece.

    It’s quicker now and with Corona it’s like skating on butter! The friends have become the cornered nephew guinepigs and the programs have become apps. The key thing though is that for the first time in years I’ve got that coding creative frenzy back again!

  6. Chris Leyton says:

    POKE – oh the joys of C64 programming…

    Happy Birthday Corona, may you continue to evolve as a platform into old-age – and congrats to the entire Ansca team.

  7. There is no joke. Everytime I solve some problem or see that new feature is working, I raise up my hands and say: “Woohoo!” (or “Get it bitch!” if it was a damn bug, that took many hours to fix it).

    I always believe that development should be simple, fast and with friendly community of developers. I’ve tried to start development on PHP, Ruby on Rails, C, Objective C, but all of them has one problem – too long path from beginning of study to something real, that you see in apps everyday. With Corona I have seen my first image in Simulator in a couple minutes with completely no experience. Now, after 3 month, I’ve almost done with my first app, that use network, JSON, XML, GPS and so on. Can I believe that it is possible? Sure not. And that is awesome!

    Happy Birthday, Corona and guys from Ansca. You’re great! Keep going!

  8. Robert de Boer says:

    Before i found Corona, i struggled with XCode for 4 months, doing online courses, video tutorials and what more. Every minute was pure frustration. In all that time i couldn’t even create a simple app I had in mind.

    Now, even if Corona is not perfect, i can focus on creativity instead of complexity! Whatever I try to make, the coding always takes the least amount of work.

    I am almost finished an adventure game, and since all the graphics and the story are completed, the fun part starts: coding with Corona!

    And believe me, that is the easy part! So thank you Walter, for creating Corona!

    And happy birthday!

  9. I completely agree with that feeling of accomplishment! Nothing like making an elegant solution to a complex problem, and watch it unfold successfully. :)

    Now, the wife on the other hand, just gives a friendly smile and a pat on the head when I show her some proof-of-concept code. She’s like “Oh, that’s nice. It took you four hours to do that? Oh, it must have been hard…”

    Somethings, only another programmer will understand. :)

  10. Thank you, Walter, for sharing your thoughts, and above all, for creating this amazing tool. I feel the same awe and respect for Walter that @Marty put so well. I hope we will continue to celebrate dozens of birthdays.

  11. Happy Birthday and THANK YOU for creating a great tool. I continue to be amazed at what I can do in very few lines with Corona

  12. The Ira Glass excerpted quote ” ‘For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good.’ … ‘And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met.’ ” seems to fit me to a T.

    This is especially true every time I open the Corona Simulator and I see the Buy Today! screen where it ticks off the days (currently at 175 days) I have been using the trial to build an app that is working, but is not good or interesting enough to garner more than a handful of downloads except maybe from family and friends.

    Well there is always tomorrow and the next day and the day after that and so on… so thanks for the blog post Walter which incidentally is my first middle name and my son’s first name and Happy 4th Birthday Corona.

  13. Couldn’t agree more. I started learning programming 4 years ago and still don’t produce anything beyond basic. The fun is definitely in the little victories, when you realize how something works finally, or you improve a cumbersome function you’ve been using. And the problem-solving – that’s the best part.

  14. Nice post which nobody tells people who are beginners and I really wish someone had told this to me is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. Thanks a lot for posting.

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