Without reading all of the previous posts, my advice is:
— If cooking from a recipe, especially for the first time, read through the entire recipe FIRST and make a mental game plan. It's also a big help to prep before hand, that includes having seasonings and what not out on the counter in addition to prepping the vegetables and what not.
— Clean as you go. I love cooking, but I hate cleaning a big sink full of pots, pans, and dishes afterwards. It makes it less intimidating if you can clean some along the way (e.g. while the chicken bakes, throw what doesn't need deep cleaning into the dishwasher).
— Invest in good kitchen supplies. It does wonders! Knives especially. This doesn't necessarily mean 'expensive' though. My personal favorite is the garlic press.
— Make it a goal to try a new recipe at least once a month then build on it, eventually gaining a foundation of recipes, ideas, and how-tos. Last week I made the Pioneer Woman's sesame noodles for the first time. I used lo mein noodles and added raw napa cabbage and stir-fried chicken to it. It wasn't bad, but next time I will use thicker noodles, steam the napa cabbage, and add less rice vinegar.
— My favorite cookbook is anything by America's Test Kitchen.
— Baking is a beast on its own. My thoughts have always been, "Cooking is a craft. Baking is a science."