So if i was to try and copy a dragon headshot every other day, about how long would it take before i could possibly make my own?
Sadly I don't think this can be measured in time :')
I am beginer like you :'D so I just wanted to suggest you entering contests or doing challenges(something like 1 head-shot per day) and try to do what you think is the best,follow your gut ^^ I am doing that...Maybe,it's good idea X) also giveaways are great cause people will serve you many characters and you can pick one or do random(this one is more often used by those who ace at art and don't have to estimate how complicated character is cause they can deal with it).
And drawing your OCs is fun ^^ try it,like they as kids or they doing something specific for them-later on in a few months you can try to draw same OC in same pose and compare how much progress you made :)
pixel art is fairly easy if you get your measurements right.
Also, for my sketchbook, I make a rough sketch and then make the lineart. Don't push down really hard, go lightly. Not too light, so harder than the sketch, but shoving it into the paper makes it impossible to erase. sometimes I just doodle the worst things or random eyes and stuff and slowly get better at it.
A lot like what was said above you need to find your style and see how you like to do art and learn anatomy (I'm not the best with that yet) and how you like to do things. For practice I suggest entering contest or doing a few commissions. Another options could be to open a free art shop to practice and find your style. As for digital art apps I use ibisPaint X on my phone but it all depends. (I hope this helps)
I suggest Autodesk Sketchbook for a simple, easy program :)
So, honestly, I never used references when learning to draw. Essentially, I just freehanded everything and it progressively improved with practice. That's really it - practice. Aside, if you would like, starting with basic shapes could be helpful. Look at the anatomy of whatever creature you plan to draw - think about the shape of the skull, then try to replicate it in a circle, oval, whatever. When fine - tuning, looking at the muscle anatomy (if possible) of your subject can be helpful for shading and whatnot.