4 Common Mistakes When Learning Python and Programming

Bob, Thu 19 March 2020, Learning

career, comfort zone, design, developer, productivity, python, pythonic, software

How are you progressing with your Python? What could be holding you back?

I gave it some thought and identified 4 issues we commonly see that hold people back from becoming a proficient Pythonista and programmer.

1. Tutorial paralysis

This by far the pitfall we hear about the most: having to read 4+ books in order to start writing code. Wrong. These resources are most effective if you alternate them with writing code. So the sooner you write code and FAIL the better.

2. Improper sequencing

Taking too many steps at the same time.

I literally saw somebody in a group asking: "I need a learning path for ML. I don't know programming yet". My reply was: "Try to crawl then walk then run. Start with the basics of Python / programming first."

The same is true with other parts of your programming journey:

We estimate that with ~20 well selected Bite exercises on our platform you will get further than banging your head against the wall trying to absorb a coding interview book (see 1.)

spiderman reading a book while balancing

(Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash)

3. Obsessing over Pythonic code

As important it is to know to effectively use Python constructs and writing Pythonic code, you should equally invest in learning about software best practices:

You can write very Pythonic code but if your functions are > 100 LOC and have a lot of cyclomatic complexity, you won't be (perceived as) an effective programmer.

Aim to read a software book each month and spend at least 1 hour a week reading top quality open source projects like requests, Flask, Django or OpenCV.

Awesome Python provides a curated list of awesome Python frameworks, libraries, software and resources. This is a great starting place and with the Github mobile app it's even easier now :)

4. Going on your own for too long

My first Python code I wrote as a support engineer among fellow support engineers.

I became the tool developer expert, the go-to guy. It felt great but cheerleaders are bad for growth. And ego is bad for growth. So I took an honest look:

As we always say at PyBites: if you're comfortable for too long, alarm bells should go off.

Remember: success leaves clues! Merely by surrounding yourself by experts you will inevitably grow (it's like gravity).

So we challenge you: become a small fish in a big pond again and your future self will thank you.


I hope this is helpful. Comment below if you see any other common mistakes people make when learning Python / programming.

Keep Calm and Code in Python!

-- Bob