Yeah, basically… That, plus reinforced learning by seeing the same characters over & over again each day. You eventually learn to recognize the ones you use/see/need most often, then grow from there.
As for stroke order & radicals, if you don’t know how to properly write & construct the separate parts of a character, you really will have to memorize several hundred thousand individual lines to be literate, and it will always look like chicken scratch… That’s much harder than just learning the few dozen “building blocks” and then assembling them in the right places. It’s really not that hard once you get started. Soon you realize they just write the same stuff over & over again but in a different configuration.
Knowing how to properly construct characters not only helps you write legibly, it helps you learn new characters more quickly, guess likely pronunciation for characters you don’t know, and be able to more easily identify or recreate a character you want to look up or ask about.
After years of Japanese study & finally beginning Chinese on my own, I actually learned a lot from this book: “Reading and Writing Chinese: Traditional Character Edition” by William McNaughton and Li Ying. Another book (also available in confusing crappy HTML format at zhongwen.com), is the Chinese Character Dictionary by Rick Harbaugh. That may be a bit much for a beginning reader, but it can be interesting & helpful.
You CAN learn to read without learning to write, but I think that will lead to mistakes because you’ll THINK you know the character, but it’ll be something else. Plus, writing helps cement it in your brain.
My Chinese reading/writing ability has improved dramatically over just a few months simply by forcing myself to write Hanzi. I’m shocked at classmates who hand in homework entirely in PinYin (they’re constantly confused by similar words because they don’t realize the characters are different … on the other hand, the Japanese students & I are confused if we DON’T have the character to reference). If you already know BoPoMoFo, great! Takes up less space in your notes
I definitely read more Chinese & Japanese than I can recreate by hand, but that’s getting better the more I force myself to write here. Even Chinese & Japanese native speakers are beginning to have trouble writing by hand - too much reliance on computers. Typing (fairly easy w/Windows, easier w/Mac) is easier & still helps you learn, but it’s a poor substitute for the retention you get from repeatedly scribbling things down yourself.
Most bookstores also have those character workbooks for elementary school kids. Seems to work for them