I followed the second character design tutorial last night which went a little quicker than the pencil but this was likely because it was simpler to make. I also found the tool setting to insert multiple equidistant edge loops very handy for adding multiple loops simoultaneously while not needing to set the loop to 0.5 each time I divided faces in half. Setting the multiples parameter to "1" also sped things up pleasingly as it automatically gave me the midpoint if I only wanted to divide a single face in half (such as with the narrow sides of the eraser). ANd while I started the use of the bevel tool confusing and sometimes irritating, I am quickly getting the hang of it.
These are only simplistic shapes admittedly but I am coming to enjoy using Maya right now and had toughts last night that made me eager for modelling my first character or object outside of these tutorials. After these first tutorials I believe am getting a good understanding of how to model more complex wireframes and possibly seeing how I could duplicate people (roughly) or certain found objects in Maya.