Thanks Portal Star and Monger.
I think the first step is to grasp the basic skill of drawing quick sketches with charcoal or pencil. Is there any link on the net to this kind of stuff?
I don't know of anything on the net but my favorite basic book on drawing (complete with lesson plans) is:
Drawing on the right side of the Brain
There are others like "The natural way to draw" and a variety of intro to drawing books.
You also will probably want to consult a human anatomy book for artists - it helps to know the underlying structure and how it influences the appearance of the face.
Doing master copies of portraits you like will also help.
The most important thing of all is drawing. When you don't know how to draw somthing, simply look - the answers are all there in your subject (this is why you should draw from life.)
If you have never drawn before you should probably start with the basics of light and shadow on different shapes - sphere, cube, cylinder, cone. Then do some still lifes then some self portraits and portraiture.
Make yourself work life-sized or larger and use good paper (not crayola anything... You will probably want to start with a large newsprint pad and vine charcoal - also an 8 x 10 nice sketchpad for sketching in with pencil)
If you want to do the entire figure, you can study sculpture (the same for busts) or find a local figure drawing group - they usually charge about $5 per drawing session.