"Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being".
~A. A. Milne
The first step to start writing is to write.
I know this sounds ridiculous, but the fact remains that Writers Write.
There are several ways to go about this, and since you are at a computer, you have one of the most powerful tools that any writer could have (besides an imagination). So I am going to take you through some simple steps on how to start writing.
1. Open up notepad or another no-frills application. That is correct, notepad. You do not want to open Microsoft Word, Works, Open Office, or any other "word processing" application, because frankly, you will do more processing than writing words.
2. Type a list of things that you would want to write about. This can be anything! Do you want to write about robots who become so human, that they start thinking or feeling? Do you want to write the latest fantasy novel? Do you want to write about Vampires? What about poetry?
Alternatively, do you want to write about the history of the Inuit people? Do you want to write about Australopithecus, and the suborbital torus? You can write fiction or fantasy, history or a scientific research paper.
3. Some would say to write what you know, but I want to tell you that you should write what you want to know more about. Though my passion is writing fiction, the fact remains that I write mostly on topics that I want to know more about. Since I am a 'craft junkie', I tend to research new things I am interested in. For example, I want to start learning about pottery, so I research pottery. If I want to write about Vampires, I research (yes, I said research) Vampires.
4. Since I do not believe in writer's block (even though I swear I suffer from it) I will not talk about it here. The fact is that getting words on the page at this step is just as important as a final draft. You want to write right now, and this is the way to get started.
5. Start with a quote. One of my graduate professors told me that starting a paper with a quote, or a question is lazy writing. I'm glad she is not reading this (I hope), but I disagree. A quote can be a GREAT springboard for any writing venture. Even if you are writing fantasy, a quote can be a good place to start. If you are writing a story about Vampires, for example, take a dictionary, and write the definition of a Vampire to start. That may even inspire ideas about your story. If you have ever seen Finding Forester, you will know the value of starting with a quote, and the importance of the next step...
Make sure to cite your sources! If you do start with a quote, unless it is your own, and unpublished, make sure you give credit where credit is due. You can read this article if you would like to know more about citing your sources.
6. Now write. Do not pause for editing, ignore punctuation, capitalization, and grammar if you have to, and just write. This process is called free-writing, and will get those ever important words on the page.
If for some reason you do not have access to a computer, and someone just handed you this printed out article, well, first thank them for their good taste, pick up a notebook and pencil or pen, and do the same thing. Remember that writers write. These initial steps will not make you into a writer, but they are a good springboard.