How To Escape Tutorial Hell

December 27, 2022
#beginner #tips
Young man carrying a backpack on his back and laptop in his hand standing in hell surrounded by fire. 3D-rendered with AI.

What is tutorial hell? 😈

Tutorial hell is when someone (not even only developers) is stuck in a seemingly endless loop of going through tutorials and never ending up achieving anything with it.

I am not entirely sure what the reason for this is, but I have two guesses:

  • There is too much stuff to know that newcomers feel a big pressure of learning everything.
  • After finishing a tutorial, people find out they are still not able to actually build something

How to escape tutorial hell? πŸ’ͺ

For the first reason there is a relatively simple cure, and it is this advice I can strongly recommend:

Don't try to learn everything at once ☝️

Become very good (not perfect) at a certain thing before moving onto the next one. I know this is challenging because social media is full of all kinds of technologies everyone is raving about. But trust me when I tell you that everything comes in good time.

Start with the basic technology and work your way up. Fundamentals are very important and there is no shame in spending a good amount on understanding how it really works.

Let's come to the second reason - "not being able to build something". There are a few things you can do to actually start building things

Apply new learnings immediately πŸ”¨

This is probably the best advice I can give you about this: Once you finished a tutorial, don't jump to the next one!

By just watching or even coding along you don't learn the problem-solving skills you need. An incredibly useful tool to fundamentalize newly learned skills is to just apply them.

Build a small project that involves your new skill. A project, that is fun for you! This could be related to your hobbies, families, or other interests.

It is totally okay to go back to the tutorial and look things up when you get stuck. This is the way you learn!

Don't memorize everything πŸ€”

It's easy to think that there is a need to memorize everything. I highly discourage doing this.

There is too much stuff that you couldn't remember everything even if you tried.

Instead, try to understand and remember concepts AND where to find them. For example don't learn all the CSS properties a img tag can have, instead learn what it is used for and an official source where you can look it up.

Engage in real problem-solving 🧩

If you run into an issue that's not solved by looking at the tutorial, look for answers! Because this is also what seasoned developers do.

First, try to understand what is going wrong and see if with the knowledge you have acquired you are able to solve the issue. This can take some time at the beginning, and that's okay.

You can also google the issue and see if someone else had a similar problem. On StackOverflow people publish how they solved certain things. Take a look there, because chances are you are not the first to encounter the issue at hand.

Combine with other skills πŸ› 

If you already have skills, and you are learning something new it's a good idea to combine the skills. If for example you learned Tailwind before and now you learn about Vue.js, try to learn how to include Tailwind in Vue.js and apply it in the project you are building.

This helps fundamentalize even more the skills you have acquired prior to the current tutorial. Because I have some bad news: If you don't practice the skills, they will fade away.

Write about it ✍️

An incredibly powerful tool you can use for yourself is writing about what you just have learned.

This could for example be a blog post. Doing this forces you to internalize what you have learned and make you understand better. As they always say: You don't really know something until you teach it.

It's important to notice that you don't need to be an expert to be sharing these learnings. There is always someone right behind you on the learning curve that will find your input valuable, especially when it's written by someone that is also new to the topic.

Connect with others πŸ”Œ

This also applies as general advice, but is important to escape tutorial hell as well: Connect with others!

Social media is great, because you can connect with:

  • People at the same level as you, you can bounce ideas off of
  • People behind you on the learning curve, you can teach something (thus also making you better at the skill you're teaching)
  • Experts in the field, you can really learn some neat tricks from

So I highly encourage you to connect with others and also write about your learning with them.

Change courses πŸ”€

If you really feel that a tutorial isn't teaching you anything, try to find anotherone. Don't feel forced to finish a tutorial just because you started it.

There is something called "opportunity cost". If you paid for the course, the money will be gone regardless of finishing it or not. Your time is too valuable to be stuck at a course you don't like.

Take breaks πŸšΆβ€β™‚οΈ

Be mindful of tour mental health. It doesn't serve you well if you are just in front of the computer all day going through tutorials.

If you feel like you just went over a particularily difficult passage of the tutorial, take a break. For example go outside, take a coffee. This gives your mind the space it needs to process the information it just got.

You'd be surprised how different everything looks when you get back.

Replay difficult sections πŸ”

Apart from taking a break after difficult sections, it's also helpful to replay them and really try to understand what's going on.

As I mentioned before: There is no shame in taking some time. Also experts take time on some things when they learn something new.

Summary ✨

Learning something new isn't easy. And getting trapped in the tutorial hell is tempting. But with these tips I hope you can avoid the tutorial hell, or escape it if you've already fallen into it.

Don't hesitate to reach out if you need any more help with being stuck in tutorial hell.

πŸš€ If you liked this article, follow me on Twitter. That is where I am most active.
πŸ“Έ Photo by Midjourney (prompts by Marc Backes)