Learning how to Learn Spacemacs

A few years ago, I tried to make a big switch to Vim. I was tired of using IDEs. I always felt so disconnected from the project I was working on.

A Little Background

After looking around for a bit, I found Vim and Emacs. Emacs with the Ctrl and the Meta (like WTF is Meta!?) and the Alt… No way… Too many buttons. Vim it is! That was a mistake.

I had no idea how Vim worked, how to configure it, or where to find new packages for it. All I actually knew was :wq and :x because they were the same thing. After fumbling around for a few weeks, not knowing what to do, I gave it up.

About a year later, I found this goofy looking language called Clojure. I initially started using LightTable since it was easy to get up and running. I hit a wall though. LightTable wasn’t getting it done for me anymore. So I took the plunge and installed Emacs.

It Was Bad.

As you might imagine, I broke a couple things every once in a while. I also overwrote the binding for C-g by accident. Oops… If it wasn’t for the Brave Clojure book, I wouldn’t have ever escaped that purgatory. I learned a thing or two about using Cider and moving around. I didn’t get far with it though.

That’s about the time that I found Spacemacs.

It was glorious.

Everything I was looking for… in documentation. The number of tutorials I found (specifically relating to Clojure) was like striking gold.

That’s when I had my epihpony. It’s not that Emacs and Vim are bad editors for me. It’s not that I didn’t have potential to become fluent in them. I just didn’t know how to learn how to use them!

When you need to learn a new language, the first thing you do is look up some documentation. Same thing as when you need to learn a new library or framework. You don’t just guess at the syntax until you get it right and then look up how it’s done. So why should the approach to new tooling be any different?

I decided to put my Clojure learning aside for a little bit to focus more on my tooling. I knew how to work in Spacemacs but I didn’t know how to really be productive. After a solid week of just reading, watching, and practicing, I finally figured it out. I’m going to need another couple of weeks… or years.

Written on February 7, 2017