You can start by writing down what the question is asking so that you know where you are trying to go. In other words, what do the answer choices stand for? What am I trying to do on this one?
Next you can bring down the numbers in the problem to your scratch paper so that you have those right in front of you.
Look at your inputs - what is going to get you to move toward your output (the answer choice)?
Of course it is very important to be able to identify the type of word problem as well. You need to know the basic formulas and equations for things like rate problems, venn diagrams, mixtures etc.
Don't be intimidated a word problem is just an algebra problem that has not yet been put into equations. Try to find the algebra hidden in the words.
Some thoughts for you...