Making compost is a lot like making soup, throw in the right mix of ingredients, add water, stir, and let it cook (luckily compost "cooks" itself). The key to perfect compost soup is balancing the brown or high-carbon ingredients (dead leaves, straw, paper) with the green or high-nitrogen ingredients (grass clippings, veggie scraps, coffee grounds).
I go for about a 2/3 brown and 1/3 green mix, but a compost snob (throat-clearing sound) will tell you to achieve a much more specific mix. Just eyeball it, no need to get out the measuring cup, people, we're talking about dirt!
Some composters prefer to make more of a compost lasagna with carefully constructed layers of brown and green and if you have this type of patience more power to you. My bin is definitely a soup- I throw stuff into the pot and just like when I cook my favorite potato leek or lentil soup, I test it occasionally for consistency. If the pile is dry, I add water or leave off the lid before rain. If it's too wet, I'll hunt down some leaves or shredded paper.
Of course just like with soup, sometimes the pile needs a stir. This is where you need what my mom would call "elbow grease." Get that pitchfork or compost turner in there and mix it around. Mixing adds air heating up the pile and speeding up the composting. And you know what they say- if you can't stand the heat, get out of the compost bin.