I am new to this, (about 18months) so take my advice for what it is worth. I think the key is to draw a lot, so I buy reams. (500 sheets) of 12x20 newsprint and draw on a large clipboard. The stuff is cheap so I don’t mind using lots of it. Also I know it will turn brown and brittle in a few years, so I am not tempted to get to “precious” about fussing over any one drawing. Once a month or so I do the 30 minute class mode from this site in a spiral bound sketchbook and keep it to track my progress.
As for drawing implements: charcoal pencils and Conte crayons work well on the newsprint. Graphite less so, unless it is very soft. I find that changing media occasionally helps keep me from making the same mistakes over and over and creates the opportunity to make new ones. I will try anything that makes a clear mark on the newsprint and is easy to sharpen, or doesn’t really need sharpening like the Conte crayons; pastel pencils in dark colors, Cretacolor pencils, etc. Markers will bleed into newsprint and ruin the sheet underneath and won’t let you use both sides of the paper. Ballpoint pens don’t feel right to me as I tend to draw with an underhanded grip.
I started drawing by copying Bargue plates which was lots of fun and confidence building. For that you use Nitram charcoal sticks or graphite pencils sharpened to needle points, but that I find too fussy for gesture drawing.