One of the challenges with building your own learning path is that you go in not knowing what you need to know. If you’ve taken the time to research and gather good resources, then you have a good chance of building a learning project that won’t deal you too many surprises. But as many resources aren’t created with the beginner in mind, or are created by someone who can’t remember what it was like just starting out, it’s not foolproof.
And these little surprises can manifest in a really fun way. You’ll be working on a project, confident in the knowledge you’ve gained from your gathered resources, and then you’ll come across something you haven’t thought about, haven’t read about, haven’t seen. And then you’re stuck. You may even consider quitting because things just got hard.
Don’t quit. You’re not stuck. You just have to find resources to learn how to do that one thing so you can move forward. It can feel frustrating to have to back up to the research phase, but if you reframe it as a side quest, it can make things easier. Then, you aren’t necessarily backing up. Instead, you stepping out of the main quest, the project, to unlock a new skill.
In a way, being able to take that side step is nice. On the one hand, you have this automatic frame for the side quest project because it’s part of the original project. It’s always nice to have to not make every decision from scratch when you feel like you’ve been dealt a curve ball. On the other hand, developing and creating this side quest project can create a piece of bonus material for your fans, related to the original project, but a creation all its own that can help flesh out or support the original story.
Either way, you win. Yes, you’ve had to pause the original project for this little learning project, but you can then move forward on the original project with a new skill, new content, and possibly a bit of bonus content. That’s pretty cool, and a much less scary way to look at the holes hidden in your growing knowledge of a skill.
So, always try to be as diligent as you can when you’re creating a learning project, but be open to those moments when you find gaps and make the most of those gaps. You might be truly surprised by what you learn and what you create.