Just to keep it simple I am going to use a simple project I've posted here as an example. But it is just complicated enough I can use it. Specifically I'll use this part of it.
In Figure 1 here I have drawn 4 blue blocks around sub-circuits that make up the entire circuit. Block 1 is the power supply. This can be built first, and tested. Being a dual power supply each side of it may be made, and tested separately. Block 2 is the preamplifier section. It is two stages, each stage can be built, and tested in order, IC3A then IC3B. Sections 3 and 4 are power amplification stages. In order to test stage 3 by itself some temporary circuit adjustments might need to be made, but signals can be tested at that point.
What I am trying to convey here is little blocks of a circuit are much easier to deal with than soldering a whole project up, then having it blow up in your face when you initially energize it. I mean if you build it in pieces and test as you go things are much more manageable. You build the power supply, it works, build the preamplifier, it works, build the power stages, smoke, fire! You're going to think I must have made a mistake in the power stages. Which is a lot better than thinking dang, it doesn't work, now what?
I employ this same technique with every project I do. It is easiest to illustrate using an electronic schematic though. What I'm talking about here is called reductionism. Break it down and simplify! (e.d. I would just like to note that I think reductionism in many contexts is utter nonsense and I don't tolerate over simplifier s either)
I don't want to get all preachy but I would like to dispel the misconception that things must be arrived at in their entirety at the outset. I know what I just got done saying sounds absurd, and it is, but I think too many cling to that belief, whether they're aware of it consciously or not.
To conclude I'd like to share a picture with everyone that I have drawn great inspiration from. I'm sure many have seen it before but try to look at it in the context of what I just said. I mean what a beautiful mess it is compared to what we all know it has turned into today. They hardly arrived at the have all and end all right off the bat now did they? But studying it I can see how they made it one step at a time.
Staring at this picture always cracks me up, but leaves me awe struck at the same time. I hope my article inspires some to create projects that move me too.