Have you ever struggled mightily with a coding problem for far too long, only to explain the problem to someone and in the middle of the explanation suddenly understand the solution?
There’s a name for that process: Rubber Duck Debugging.
The theory is that answers often come to you through the process of explaining the problem. The person or thing hearing you explain isn’t relevant in this theory, it’s the explaining that helps find the solution.
I did this for years before I knew it was a “thing.” Very often I’d be struggling, and my wife would say “tell me about it” and I’d explain, knowing full well that she won’t understand the intricate details of multidimensional arrays, but then right in the middle of the explanation, inspiration will strike and she’ll smile and leave me to my madness.
Now that I know that it works, my process is a little more deliberate. A few years ago my kids gave me a stuffed rhino (or as he’s now known as: Mr. Rhino). At various times he lives on my desk so I can explain problems to him, and it’s very helpful.
When he lets me down, I’ll often turn to co-workers, friends, or still my wife. Sometimes I get funny responses from people when I thank them for the help before they even get a chance to respond, but usually as soon as I explain the process they say “Oh yes! I do that all the time.”
Do you have anyone or anything you use as a sounding board when you’re stuck?