Alright, after that crash course, I'm going to go through how I work with you. This will likely be long, so it'll probably get cut into more than one post.
I am one of those people that usually starts with a phonology, or a set of sounds that I want to put into a language. A basic idea of how I want it to sound. This usually means I start by saying a random sentence like thing out loud, then try to write it down using my dialect of English.
So something like "griskle neff twandr-ikka"
This has the plus (or minus depending on how you look) of only making sounds that I can pronounce available to me.
Another way I've done this is to pound my keyboard and try and pronounce what came up, adding vowels or word breaks where I just can't do it
" dgxfhcgvjhugbm "
"Dgzf hucgiv jhug bem"
Which I can pronounce (albeit rather haltingly).
A third way is to think of a language (or a couple, though more than three or four would get difficult) that you like the sound of, and mash them together, either by yourself, or through the use of a program to help you.
I used to have links to programs like these, but I rarely do things like this (read: once), so I've long since lost them. If you find one, will you throw it my way?
After I have something that sounds kinda how I want it, I'm going to use that to extrapolate.
I'm going to use my current language in process, Torete, to explain the following things. It will become a major fixture in these kinds of posts because it is my most complete work.
So I start with something that sounds kinda like this:
"ela fokomo de nena eska no fala make. ina feza salopa yutese"
Which, using XSAMPA, sounds almost exactly as it is written.
/el.a fo.ko.mo de ne.na es.ka no fa.la ma.ke i.na fe.za sa.lo.pa ju.te.se/
From there I notice that I have a great affinity for vowels, and I greatly despise consonant clusters. The only one that showed up was "sk" which is a cluster I find every easy to say.
So I decided that words in this language will have no consonant clusters, and that all words end in vowels.
I also get a good idea of what kind of word length I am looking at. I prefer four letter words.
I also prefer words that start with consonants. This leads me to say that words starting with a vowel are being modified in some way, a prefix.
It also gives me an idea of sounds I like:
/f k m d n s l z p y e i u a o/
From there I decided to look through IPA to see if there were any sounds that I don't have day-to-day exposure to that I would enjoy.
I mostly found them to sound too similar or to be unpronounceable, so I left it alone.
Splitting these up into vowels and consonants I have:
/a e i o u/
/f k m d n s l z p y/
I don't feel like that is enough, so I'm going to add
/b v r/ to the mix, as I like them too.
A quick way to see if you are getting words you like is to play with Awkwords. Their help button is really helpful, but I can answer some questions if you have them.
Okay, this is long enough. So.... To be continued. Likely tomorrow or the next day.