[Mod Note: Just because a thread is inactive doesn't mean you can hijack it for your own, slightly related question. Create a new thread, like everyone else.]
If I want to become a professional programmer, what is the best approach? I get decent books, but they always seem to bore me because I already understand the concepts. Yet I have problems retaining the syntax (sort of like, "oh crap, how did the parentheses go again for the function pointer?"). I can quickly look up the syntax and even fake it on a programming board like this one, but I really am not much farther than a "beginner"; if I were to take a look at the "Learn to program C++" tutorials on this site, the stuff I don't know is basically trees and little details with the STL. Obviously I should learn that, but where to go from there? To be frank, I don't even know of a project that I can undertake that won't have me losing interest in a few months (the projects that I do always seem to take way longer than I think they will, and I guess that's the problem...)
In other words, how far do I have to go before I can write a program that other people will want to use? What about getting a job as a paid programmer?