Well, I'm not an expert or anything, but here's how I did my first project:
Figure out how to put a box on the screen
Figure out how to make that box move based on keyboard inputs
Figure out how to make that box know when it runs into another box (harder than it may seem at first glance)
Figure out how to make a box move on its own
Figure out how to make a box move based on the position of another box
Turn that into pong
It's nothing pretty, but it taught me some pretty good basic stuff that you see all the time in games. Now I can use that stuff when I try to write nicer games.