A great way to get in to writing is to enter contests. If you win, you have a publishing credit to your name, and you can use that to build your portfolio and impress more publishers and editors (if you go the traditional publishing route). Even if you decide to self-publish, you can use your published works to build a platform and get your name out to your readers.
Recently I found two interesting writing contests.
This is a month-long contest, held three times a year. Winners receive a $1000 prize, along with manuscript development, and editing coach, and the possibility of winning an iPad.
Run by Harlequin, this contest will begin in September. Submit fully written manuscripts and join an intense week-long online conference.