Rules to Code By
If you’re relatively new to programming:
Choose a language and stick to it.
Choose a text editor that is easy to learn and stick to it.
Avoid large frameworks like Rails and Django until you’ve got a decent grasp on the language you’re using.
Write lots of code. The specific code you write is less important than that you write lots of code.
Don’t worry about choosing the “perfect” project. It’s easy to let the perfect be the enemy of the good when it comes to project selection.
Have your code reviewed regularly, ideally by someone who knows the language you’re working in well.
Pair program, ideally with people who know the language you’re working in well.
Develop a good mental model of your code.
Become a systematic debugger.
Write small programs from scratch.
Give yourself progressively larger challenges. For example, write a project you think will take an hour, then an afternoon, then a day, then two days…
Become comfortable with your tools, but don’t go overboard yak-shaving.
Learn to use git, GitHub, a text editor and your language’s debugger.
Source: Hacker School User’s Manual