Getting to a point where you can pretty much do your own thing, your own way is quite challenging, especially when you're learning on your own.
You could pick up some beginner's books or videos but I would definitely recommend going through the starter tutorials in the program's help files. Especially since a lot of third party beginner level stuff assume you know the interface already. Of course there are tons of free video tuts floating around the net, some (I'm very tempted to say “few”) are well informed and neatly presented, some are made by kids replicating what they saw in a commercial product, and some are just ...depressing. The most glaring examples that stuck with me was a series of bad Youtube videos (created by someone in an "expert" group mind you) to introduce users to keyframing and the timeline using the Generi rig (Google it!). Really?..Character animation to explain keyframe basics? Why not introduce someone to modeling by creating St. Stephen's Cathedral? I am not an animator, but I know enough to see the guy did not know what he was doing but what about the people who can't? They are fed bad info from the start! Don't get me wrong, there are some really good freebies out there, some don't even come in the form of video but rather fun, helpful communities. So, to the people new to 3D, just know that you're taking a real risk with some of the free stuff. You've been warned. How to tell if a video tutorial is bad:
Instructor: “So we're going to move this over here and if we just click here and make this like that ...we want these to be about right here and then.. .” *keyboard tapping*
You: “Hey wait, wtf shortcut was that?”
Instructor: “....................” *click, click – clickitty click*
You: “How do I.....what ??”
Instructor: “Let's move on to the final touches.” *continues to click away without saying a word....then....* “After we've changed all these, now this is what we get.” *abracadabra bitches!*
If this is happening, turn off the video and come to grips with the fact that you'll never get those minutes of your life back. If you managed to stick with it and actually get a finished product and you have no clue how you did it, then you just got trolled by a tutorial.
Another hurdle a lot of people face is the dreaded "burnout", non-newbies are quite susceptible to this as well. Whats that? Its what happens when you bite off more than you chew in terms of a personal project, you get frustrated to the point where you scrap the project or even 3D altogether. No, you're not going to create an hour long, photorealistic, fan fiction movie based on Final Fantasy VII or that sci- fi novel you've been reading within the first month of getting your grubby mitts on a 3D program. If you can do that, then get off your ass and go cure a disease.
Speaking of projects! I remember a conversation where someone told me they had done a lot of the tuts in the help files and even went through a book or two and they didn't know what to do next. My suggestion was to start on a personal project. And the reply I got was that he couldn't because he didn't know enough. That's when it dawned on me that we had different ideas of what “project” meant. A project, to me, doesn't have to be of grand scale and design, it could be modeling/texturing/lighting a box of cereal next to a empty bowl and spoon. Just try to make it the most badass box of cereal render you can muster. It's about using your problem solving skills and applying what you have learned about tools and techniques to realize visions, whatever they may be. If you went through a tutorial about modeling a toaster and you're looking for a tutorial for modeling a printer then the reality of it is that you walked away from the toaster tutorial with nothing.
So whats the point of all this? It's a shout out to the people who decided to dive into 3D because they like telling stories or making pretty pictures. It's not easy being a newbie, the learning curve is quite steep, there are a lot of people who will ignore your efforts and questions and sometimes the road just seems too rough and long. But just know you have fans ^^. Also I just have to write whats rumbling around in my mind now and again.