Jennifer Pelland's post, over here, on how writing seems to get harder as one gets better at it is the inspiration for this entry of mine.
But the thing is, it applies to everything you do. Because as you get better at it, you start attempting to do harder things. And what happens is that the harder thing you were trying to accomplish seems just as hard--if not harder--than the thing you were trying to do before. So you wind up feeling like you're not making any progress, right?
And if you're trying to learn an iterative thing, where each new skill gets overlaid over all the old skills, and you still have to be doing all those old things competently, and then while you're doing that, doing the new thing too. Which makes you feel like a complete yoob, because here you are suddenly unable to do this simple stuff you were just doing kind of okay. And well, yeah, of course, because now you are trying to juggle those three balls while standing on one foot.
The trick, I find, is to every so often go back and try to do the thing that was just *killing* you six months or a year ago, all by itself. And you will usually find, if you have been conscientious in practice, that you actually can do that thing much better and easier thank you could have before you started working on the harder thing.
In fact, I find that I never actually learn how to do something until I start trying to learn the next step after that one, because that's when my brain internalizes the thing I was trying to learn, makes it automatic, and starts consciously working on the next bit.
We forget, once we master a skill, that it took work to master it. Also, we forget that learning hard things is a lifetime commitment. (The arts, science, human relationships, many sports and games--these count as hard things. If you can do it for twenty years and still uncover nuances of technique or knowledge, it's a hard thing.)
And now I need to go practice guitar and do some math before I leave for climbing.
Also, I think I have too many challenging hobbies.
The problem is, I *like* them all.