I feel like there are many parts to this question, so I'm going to do my best to be more consistent with my posts, and keep them short and simple, to avoid an ultra detailed response. I've written some things out in point form, which I'm going to expand on as I go. I'm hoping that with this process, it'll become somewhat motivating and not so much overwhelming to those who want to encourage their creative side with me. Not every one of my tips is going to work for everyone, they're just suggestions based off of personal experience.
Picasso once said, Good artists copy, great artists steal.
I'm going to start where I started off, and that was by copying things. While I was also very much about drawing in my own fashion, to fiddle with mindless abstraction, I felt that copying things helped me understand my tools and method(s) of approach. It also helped me learn how to adjust to different styles, and figure out how to get my shapes right when I wanted things to look a certain way. I still use visual reference as a guide, as I enjoy drawing my favorite childhood cartoon characters; but my goal is to also make it my own.
Important note: While I say that copying is the way to learn, be aware that these are creations by other people/artists and shouldn't be passed off as your own. When you start to make your own thing, without relying so much on making things exact to its original, then it becomes your own unique style. Copying things exactly is just an exercise, to eventually grow comfortable with your own method of self expression. It worked for me, but it may not work for everyone. It's merely just a suggestion to getting into the swing of things.
Give it a shot and see what you come up with. It may lead to even bigger ideas.