I have been trying to get stated with Automation from past 5-6 months or so. I do not any have any previous automation experience as such. Initially I started with downloading the evaluation copies of the testing tools available. But it did not help, since to even evaluate tools I needed to know the basics of automation. I turned my focus on learning as much as i can about automation, in which QAforums was of great help.
I have summarized following as to "to do" to get started with automation
1. Learn Basic programming: http://pine.fm/LearnToProgram/ is a good start for those who have never done any programming
2. Learn any scripting language : I have started with Ruby(will be useful for open source tools) and also want to get hand-on jscript(will be good for licensed tools)
3. Read as much as you can on Test Automation methodologies:
"Software Test Automation" by Fewster & Graham
"Automated Software Testing" by Dustin, Rashka and Paul
...few to begin with. Internet is the ocean of information, if you look for it...
I have figured out this much; will keep adding to the list