One of the most important steps toward becoming adept at whittling and carving is the mastery of the tools. Since whittling involves using the knife exclusively we can start there.
Seldom have I seen one who can pick up a carving knife and right away use the knife in a skillful fashion. What I mean is, to safely use the knife to produce the exact desired results in whittling. Some describe wood carving/whittling with the ol' story of, "to carve a dog, just grab a piece of wood and carve off all the wood that isn't a dog". If that was all there is to it, wouldn't that be nice. Well no, it wouldn't, but that's a different topic. To master the knife in whittling is to be able to plan your knife cuts, and execute the cuts in a manner that is safe, and achieves the desired look after the cut. This means that only the wood to be removed is removed. It means control of the knife blade and the wood. And it seems to me that this control come with practice.
A few years ago while participating in a carvings show, the fellow next to me had a knife in his hand nearly the whole time. As he sat there and answered question, or just by himself he was whittling on a piece of wood. Upon closer inspection I noticed he had a 1" x 1" x 8" piece of Basswood that he was carving a "ball" on the end. Of course I asked him what was it that he was carving. His answer was, "just a ball". Now this fella was no spring chicken, no beginner at all. He was over 80 years old and an excellent wood carver. But he went on to say that he was just practicing.....
Give it a try sometimes. It is relaxing and it provides an opportunity for practice for both the beginner and the more experienced.