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10 tips to start building your own projects and break out of "Tutorial Hell"

chrisblakely01 profile image Chris Blakely Originally published at jschris.com ・3 min read

1. Finish a tutorial, then add your own stuff to it

I like this approach as its often daunting to start from a blank slate. Finish a tutorial in the usual way, but instead of stopping then and going about your day, try to add new features. You could even change a feature you just created

2. Pause at certain points and try it yourself

Any decent tutorial will (hopefully) be broken up into sections e.g "Next we're gonna add a TODO". These are good points in a video/tutorial to pause and try coding that next thing yourself

3. Try the Tutorial before you follow along with it

One approach I'm trying with my YouTube channel is to show a working example/provide starter code up front and encourage people to try the project themselves before they follow along. You can try this approach with just about any tutorial

4. Look at your favorite sites/apps for inspiration

What apps and sites do you use every day? Let's take Reddit as an example. I'm not saying "Yo stop doing tutorials and go build a Reddit clone", but take a small part and try and replicate it.

For example, display a Reddit post that you can upvote. Next, turn this into a list of Reddit posts. Then add comments to each. And so on

5. When you have a handle on smaller projects, build a big one

I personally wouldn't recommend ya'll go aiming to build massive projects from the start. This can be disheartening when you get stuck. But you should aim to build a massive project once you feel "comfortable". i.e, finished a few smaller ones.

This will give you practice with a few things:

  • How to plan then code features

  • How to use Google/Reddit/Stackoverflow to solve problems

  • How to think by yourself (no tutorial = no safety net)

6. Scratch your own itch

So recently I noticed I'm dehydrated as hell since I don't drink enough water but consume copious amounts of coffee. So I made a small app to remind/track how much I drink. I could have gone to the app store and got one but I learned building an app that solves a problem I have

Ask friends and family what problems they're having a see if you can make an app to solve it

7. Overcome the fear

Dunno what causes this, but there seems to be a "fear" of starting a new project. Maybe in case we get stuck, get it "wrong", hit too many bugs etc. The best thing to do is realise you might not get it right, or have all the answers at the start. This is part of the game - overcoming bugs and solving problems as we go

 8. It gets easier with practice

The more you practice the more you'll have those "Ah I've seen this shitty problem before" moments, and you can "reuse" code/logic from other problems you've solved

9. Just build stuff

Ultimately the best way to learn is to build stuff and write code. Pick something and run with it. What's the worst that could happen? You'll "waste" a few hours/days but I know for a fact that you'll have learned something, which is the main thing

10. Have fun

This doesn't really solve the problem of breaking out of tutorial hell but I couldn't end on 9 points. So make sure you're having fun when building stuff or else it'll feel like "work". And remember to stay hydrated.

Still stuck for ideas?

Why not try building some React projects to boost your learning even further? I send out project ideas every few weeks(ish) with project ideas, starter code, and tips. Subscribe to get this straight to your inbox!

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chrisblakely01 profile

Chris Blakely

@chrisblakely01

Self-taught frontend developer turned Lead UI developer. Creating articles, tutorials and videos aimed at beginners. Come say hi @ www.jschris.com

Discussion

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Good read its true breaking out of tutorial hell will set you on the path to being a better developer. Copy and paste only gets you so far.

 

Nice article! good ideas for breaking out of that place. Well I can say that great minds think alike.

 

I came across your react tutorial on youtube it was great :)

 

Thank you! I'm glad it was helpful :)