I'll chime in here with my experience. I learned to weld watching a guy in Atlanta that was a bad-azz stick welder. His stick welds were nicer looking than just about any TIG I've seen. His deal with me was, I do all the prep and all the finish, but he would burn the stuff in. So I grabbed a second helmet and I would watch exactly how he moved and when. 99% of the time, the only finish work I ever did was hammer and wire brush, but never much "grinding" of extra material. When you see the various techniques for puddle manipulation first hand, it sinks in your brain quicker I think.
From there, it's all about spending time with the bacon.
Get a good helmet, no a really good auto helmet.
Get a welding jacket. Don't under estimate a welder's ability to sunburn the snot out of you. Like blisters on exposed skin kind of burns.
Set up a bright lamp pointed away from your helmet but illuminating what you are going to weld. Sounds silly, but it makes a difference.
I started with a 110 MIG on flux core, but the 220 Miller on Argon/CO2 is WAY better.
Don't try learning to weld on rusty metal! Grind it clean if you need to.
Start with easy stuff...lay the material horizontal so the puddle won't run away from you and where you can brace your arm/hand better. Welding UNDER a truck is difficult, don't start there!
Then just practice practice practice. Each time you are done, try to beat the snot out of the scrap to break your weld. When you do, and you will, post up pics of the break so we can see the weld properties.
Oh, and don't breathe the smoke!