1. Untill you can hop quickly to your feet, stand and surf the white water all the way to the beach almost every time, don't even think about dropping in and riding the open face.
2. Learn to paddle, catch the white water and belly board it to the beach first. Then practice turning the board on your belly and riding it as far as you can.
3. Learn to paddle, catch the white water and kneeboard as far as you can. Then work on turning while riding on your knees.
4. Once you have mastered steps 2 and 3, you're ready to start stand-up surfing. Staying in the white water (refer to step 1), practice hopping to your feet once you have caught the wave. Don't worry about falling once you're on your feet, the important skill to learn, is getting to your feet and standing without being on one knee, or holding onto the rails with your hands. The best analogy I can give is it's a little like water skiing, in that once you get up, it's easier to do. You might fall 10 times in a row once you're standing on your board, but once you have your balance, you won't have the bad habit of getting on one knee first and all that other unstable crap that most beginners do.
5. Now that you can catch the white water and hop to your feet without falling, practice riding the white water as long as you can. Even to the beach if it'll let you. Then work on turning to the left and to the right while surfing the white water.
If you can be patient and allow yourself to learn these basic skills first, you can cut a lotta time off the ol' learning curve.
Here's some other hints to supplement
1. When you paddle, try to find the center of the board. You dont want the nose sticking out in the air. You will for sure never catch a wave if you paddle around like a towny.
2. When your shoulders start hurting, rest and then keep at it.
3. If you are loosing your balance while sitting on the board, helicopter your legs under you. If you are loosing your balance while sitting on the board and you are helicoptering your legs like crazy, look for a sidechop. If there is, everyone is wobbling too.
4. Dont freak out if you see fins in the vicinity. It is most likely a porpoise. If it has a white circle, you might want to get out for a while (rest the shoulders, you know).
5. If you see fish (as little as mullets or a big as tarpon) dont freak out wondering about why they are jumping. Everyone is thinking the same thing.
Enjoy. Its all good. I can not describe the peace that comes over you when you are having a good session.
Welcome to the surfing life , it'll keep ya young and is a lot of fun. Be patient, stick with it, and you'll pick it up.