Find a customer with unreasonable deadlines. Hit them. Repeat. It won't be pretty, but you'll be the kind of programmer I'd go into battle with: great at the things that really matter and mediocre at the things that don't.
Why do you advise plunging right into a programming project instead of carefully planning it first?
It's incredibly difficult for anyone to define what they want when they start with nothing. It's human nature (incredibly easy) to criticize what you have and how to make it better. Plunging right in and producing anything raises you from LevelIncrediblyDifficlut to LevelHumanNature.
Why do you keep going on about PICK?
I have a very small back pocket that holds everything you need to program in PICK. Whatever you can do in technology a, I can probably do in PICK, often quicker and easier.
Isn't object-oriented programming naturally suited to some problems?
Sure, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to use formal object-oriented technology. You can mimic the concepts with almost any technology.