Use the stick.
Practice more. Don't get frustrated. Remember; You're training muscle memory, and it takes A LOT OF TIME to hone good muscle memory. Just stay dedicated, stay positive. Start simple practice, like making sure special moves always come out whenever you want them, then move onto simple one hit cancel combos (like cl.mk xx hado). Then practice jump ins. After that move onto practicing links (lp lp mp xx hado). Before you know it you're already kicking ass.
Remember combos and crisp execution are only part of fighting games. PATIENCE is a huge factor. Respect sweep range, respect that line just outside of sweep where fireballs start to get safe to throw because you'll be toeing it nearly the entire game for many matchups.