The only thing I'd add to seriousconsult's advice is to use something to support the camera. A tripod would be a natural choice, but I've braced cameras on my backpack, sandbags, a pile of books, whatever's available. This will help reduce motion blur and result in sharper photographs.
But I think the most important point in seriousconsult's advice is that first word: experiment. That is golden.
For me, the real joy of having a camera in my hand is the chance to play. Pick a texture. (Any texture.) Try changing your lighting. Try changing your angle. Try changing your aperture (though f/8 really is a good starting point). Try changing your distance, focal length, all of it. Afterward when going through your photos, pick your favorite from the set and try to describe WHY it's your favorite. Pick your least favorite from the set and again try to describe WHY it's your least favorite. Then go back and do it again on another subject.
One last thing: Carry your camera with you as much as you can. The more it's in your hand and not in your bag, the better. Photograph what you see. At the end of the day apply that same process to your photos. You'll add subjects to your project you might never have considered at the beginning, and you'll grow as a photographer by leaps and bounds.