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Zell Liew πŸ€—
Zell Liew πŸ€—

Posted on • Originally published at zellwk.com

Don't be ashamed of tutorial hell

Many people are trapped in tutorial hell β€” they hop from one tutorial to another, to another, to another, never building something on their own. And they're ashamed of it.

Don't be ashamed of tutorial hell.

You go through tutorials for many reasons:

  • To learn to build something you don't know how to build
  • To gain knowledge β€” both breadth and depth
  • To gain expertise
  • To learn thinking patterns
  • To learn mindsets
  • To obtain possibilities that were never possible before

Tutorials expand your mind to create possibilities. All these would not happen if you didn't go through a tutorial.

Going through a tutorial a few times is ok

It takes more than one try to understand information. You don't understand everything in one go β€” unless you are already proficient or know the material.

You will miss things. The first time will be confusing. You will be irritated that you're confused, and annoyed that you're not good enough to understand the information presented.

That's ok. Accept that you're not good enough to understand it because you are not good enough yet.

It doesn't mean you'll never be good enough.

Learning is a process of creating knowledge in your brain. You have to allow your brain to make connections. Most of these connections haven't been formed before, so you're forging a new path.

It's tiring, it's frustrating.

Going through the same material a second time, or a third time, isn't a crime. It isn't a sin, it doesn't mean you're stupid. What it means is you haven't had enough information to figure out what you want to know.

And that's normal.

Going through many tutorials is ok too

Sometimes one tutorial isn't enough because it's lacking the essential information you need. So you need to supplement the tutorial with another. Books are longer for that reason too β€” you can't expect one article to contain all the information you want to know.

Going through different tutorials on the same topic from different people is like undergoing training from different mentors β€” you get to see different ways of doing the same things, and you can begin to pick out what works and what doesn't (assuming you're paying attention, which comes with more practice).

Of course, people are different in their ability to precisely and accurately convey information. So some tutorials are better than others for facilitating learning.

That's a fact.

If you find someone who conveys information accurately and precisely, it may be worth following them for more.

There is no shame in reading tutorials

Learning is a messy process. It's not linear. It's not easy. It's not simple.

There is no shame in taking it slow.

It's like compound interest. You have to begin adding knowledge into your knowledge bank account, and you do this through reading and absorbing the material.

Each piece of knowledge is a node that works for you inside. Each node allows you to hook onto another new piece of knowledge, so your knowledge network grows as you learn. It gets easier and easier to understand new knowledge in a related field.

Be aware of this: As the surface area of your knowledge grows, the perimeter of your ignorance grows as well. You will be exposed to more things that you don't know. You may feel insignificant in the vast amount of knowledge out there.

Don't feel pressured. It's classic Dunning Kruger effect.

It goes to show how much more we can expand.

So stay humble and continue to learn.

When to stop reading tutorials

You will reach a point where you are satisfied from reading tutorials.

You know it when you don't want to read anymore. You want to make something. You want to try and apply the knowledge you have learned.

This is the point where you should stop reading tutorials and begin making something. Not before this point β€” because you're still trying to figure out what you need.

When you try to build something, you may become confused again, because you missed certain pieces of information, or you forgot something, or you realize you don't understand something enough.

It's ok to go back and read tutorials again. This time, you're reading for specific knowledge, not the general understanding of things.

No learning is complete without applying the information you acquired through experiments and usage. You have to sit down and figure it out. Nobody can help you with that.

Once you can use that knowledge, your brain frees up energy from trying to hold the structure in place. It has become stable, and you are freed to pick up another piece of information, to read more tutorials, to gain more knowledge in a different domain.

You never stop learning β€” you never stop tutorial hell.

(By tutorial I mean acquiring knowledge).

Courses are great for learning

People build courses to facilitate the learning process for others.

Some courses are linear β€” like Learn JavaScript β€” and many other courses I've written. They're designed to facilitate the information gathering process so you don't have to randomly scour the internet for information.

It speeds up the learning process considerably.

But you still have to go through the course more than once β€” because you haven't mastered the knowledge yet. It's ok to through a tutorial a few times. It's ok to go through a course a few times. It's ok to go back and forth to obtain specific pieces of knowledge you need.

That said, whether the course is good for you depends on many factors.

  • The style of the creator
  • How you obtain information
  • Whether the creator's style matches the way you obtain information
  • Your willingness to obtain information in ways that differ from what you fixate your style to be
  • The intention of the creator
  • The goal of the course

There are many factors involved. Some courses are better for you, some courses are worse for you, and some courses are simply just a fucking big waste of money and time (especially those that charge you a lot but don't teach you anything usable).

It depends on the intention of the creator β€” did they create it to help you or to help them?

All creators would say their courses are good. All creators would promote their own products. You have to do your homework and due diligence. You have to decide whether to take a leap of faith to invest money into buying a course, and time into consuming the course.

And I guess that's what blogs and videos do β€” they give you an understanding of how the creator operates, so you have an idea whether they're doing good, or bad, whether they're trying to teach you, or scam you, and whether their way of teaching would help you.

Final Words

Don’t be ashamed of tutorial hell. Embrace it.

When you get to a point you feel you've had enough tutorials, stop and go make something. When you're done making, go back to acquiring more knowledge.

I look forward to seeing what you learn and what you make.

Have fun.


Thanks for reading. This article was originally posted on my blog. Sign up for my newsletter if you want more articles to help you become a better frontend developer.

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