Its basically a mixture of everything that you hav jus said..read up books about photography, take classes during weekends and involve yourself in CS group photo outings..but if you don't really have the cash to take classes then you can just get out there on the field and get an expert to guide you along..hope this helps..
Think you should figure out what's your area of interest, then go out and shoot. Or go out and shoot whatever and see which area you're interested in: street, portraits, sceneries, landscapes, macro, etc. Then get the lenses/filters accordingly and read up more on it or watch/read more tips online. Cheaper than buying books.
Along the way, and this will happen countless times, you will face a wall. That's when you search more, read more, practise more, and slowly start to understand all the technicalities. If face problems, come back and use the search function. Ask first search later sure kenar ah-bish! :bsmilie:
If you had bought your camera to take pictures, then go and take pictures. Hope you don't end up getting overprotective and hiding the camera at home. In the process of learning, do suss out the good from the crap. Unless you are very very soft-skinned, go look for the right people and give you honest and brutal critique. That's how you truly learn.