I prepped well using TOBS pre-shave oil and Nancy Boy Signature cream. I'll have to say that TOBS is my favorite. It's right in between the heavy AoS pre-shave and the thin T&H pre-shave.
I lathered up and really took my time, using short deliberate strokes. I really focused on stretching my skin and getting the proper angle on the razor. I've learned that angle isn't quite as critical as getting the skin really stretched out. I finished my WTG pass without problems. I'm still having difficulties doing XTG passes on my neck area, but I feel like I've got my cheek, chin, and upper lip areas down. Using my left hand is getting easier, but I still prefer using my right hand. I reapplied lather as it dried out.
Then I did something I haven't done before...I tried going ATG. I was pretty nervous at first, but once I got the blade angle figured out, it went well. I needed reduce the blade angle considerably to start out. Once I got the blade going, it was just a matter of adjusting the angle to maximize cutting efficiency.
I still get much better results using a DE, but now I feel like I'm on my way. I got a good shave this morning and I celebrated with a little Clubman...hardly any sting!
I also attribute this success to solving my stropping problem. When I first got my razor, I stropped way too hard and dulled the blade. I became a little gun shy and then stropped too slowly, thinking I was being too aggressive with it. Well, stropping too slow is just as bad as stropping too hard, and won't do anything for the blade. Once I got it down, I was popping hairs like crazy, and my razor felt much easier to use (less tugging).
I also over conditioned my strop, so it was practically worthless until it dried out enough. I learned that the purpose of conditioning a strop is to give a bit more friction, which helps sharpen the blade. I'm glad I did this to my $10 poor man's strop and not my $65 Walkin' Horse strop. I'm not going to condition my WH strop unless it's too difficult to work with.
So, I guess I made all of the classic newb mistakes. I expected as much. I'm glad I purchased the Whipped Dog special instead of the new Dovo I was originally thinking about. I have two nicer straights, but I'm going to hold off working with those for a few more weeks until I feel like I've got my routine down.
This board is a great resource.