The first thing you need to do, and the thing you’ll spend most your time doing, is gathering materials for the purpose of creating items and the building of buildings. Mining is, unsurprisingly, what everything revolves around in Minecraft so get digging and, just as importantly, get collecting.
Leave a Trail
Your Minecraft environment is randomly generated just for you. The hills, the water, the deserts, the jungle, there’s no set Minecraft map and, if you’re playing on PC, it will stretch as far as you can run. Considering this you need to play smart and create trails for yourself around your world alongside visible landmarks. Torches are good, placed on the ground they make an easy to follow breadcrumb trail so that you can get home after a little scouting jaunt. Likewise a trail will let you get back to where you were the next day. There’s nothing worse than being caught, lost, as the sun drops and a Creeper leers over the horizon.
Make Spares of Everything
Weapons and tools, in particular, are prone to breaking in Minecraft so make sure you’re not just making what you need at the very moment you make it. Create an extra pickaxe, a spare sword, a couple of axes. Carrying the spares will mean you’re never caught without, and leaving some extras back at 'home' will make death seem less daunting. Speaking of which…
A typical hint, admittedly, but Minecraft is actually quite a mean game when it comes to punishing your missteps. Die in Minecraft and you’ll drop your entire personal inventory at the point of death and the game will then spawn you at a random spot in your map (unless you’ve reset your spawn point via a bed). Take too long to return to your death spot and your inventory will disappear for good. As such, avoid dying and yes, make spares – in the case of death a well stocked chest can help you get back to form quickly and painlessly.
Do What You Want
Minecraft is ultimately a game that thrives on your own personal designs and initiatives. While there is a 'game' in building every armor set, more powerful weapons, creating powerful enchantments and tackling the Dragon that awaits in The End, you can have just as much fun creating Redstone Trap Chests, door bells, hillside penthouses and complex railway systems if you want. Don’t feel like you have to play Minecraft in any particular way, you don’t. Find your own fun.