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Vinit Kumar

Slow Programmer, Fast Programmer

January 29, 2022

2022 is a special year for me, I started writing code professionally in 2012, so this year I will be completing a decade of writing code and getting paid for it. This first decade has surely been an interesting one. A side-effect of working this long is that you will form opinions (Strong opinions, Weakly held).

I was thinking about what actually makes a programmer fast and others slow. What are some of the traits I observed in myself and my peers, mentors and mentees and what actually made them fast or slow?

  • Clarify of thoughts: The fastest programmers I have seen and in my own personal experience is that people who tend to have clarity in thoughts are often the fastest. Well, most of the beautiful code is first written in mind and then typed on an editor.

  • Sense of Time and Planning: The fastest ones usually plan their work ahead and think of the scenarios instead of doing writing code and then thinking of edge cases as they come.

  • Proven methods of testing and debugging code: These folks spend time honing their debugging skills and also testing the code they have written. Never do they not test what they have written because the time spend checking your code is many hours saved when they encountered a bug later in production which can be rather nasty to debug.

  • Love for programming: You can be great or fast at something unless you love it. It is the most basic virtue that still gives folks a purpose to wake up and fight against a difficult problem. It is easy to burnout if there is less or depleting love for the craft.

  • Fast typing hands: Must sound rhetorical, but this is actually true, people who have fast typing speed and a certain level of mastery of their tools (Vim, Emacs, IntelliJ, VS Code, whatever floats your boat), tend to be able to implement things faster in very less time and can change the code and fix stuff faster.

  • Ability to think: You need to have a superb ability to think and think a lot. Read more and more books, great code, and develop an ability to think as deep or shallow as required so that you can build resilient systems. It’s a hard-earned skill that doesn’t come to anyone easily.


I am a software engineer who loves making computers do things and admires good books, music, art and coffee. You can read more about me. Find my resume, values and code here.

© 2022, Vinit Kumar