Can't tell from your post, but are you currently able to consistently go down the line, riding the green of the wave? You have to get that down.
I'm always wary of giving out advice since I feel like I barely know what I'm doing, but maybe some of this will help....
Angle your take off so you are already headed down the line when you pop up. This is especially true for really small waves since there isn't really time to do a proper bottom turn.
Unweight yourself to climb up the face.... lifting your arms helps with that. It's almost like you are jumping higher up on the wave.
If you are going backside, rotate your front shoulder back and point your arm behind you. Follow it with your eyes and hips.
Wave selection... don't ride closeouts.
To add to some already good tips, lead with your shoulders and everything else will automatically follow. Keep your knees bent and lower body loose. Always look at where you’re heading or want to be heading. Anticipate what the wave may do and apply a maneuver. Believe in yourself and visualize the completion of your maneuver until both feet are no longer on the board and there is no hope of getting them back on. Practice a lot and don't pressure yourself to be insta-Slater. Falling is a good thing despite its lack of coolness. Even for guys that are good, if you’re not eating it at least sometimes you’re not trying hard enough. Without being turdy, ride as many waves as you can in a sesh. Every minute in the water is experience under your belt.
learn to use your rail more
I agree... my brother has one of those and I can honestly say that messing around with it over the years has really helped me migrate to using a short board - the motion for sharp carves, turns, and even pumping are feels very similar. My brother also has a quaterpipe - really good for learning vertical techniques and snaps using the ripstik (charge the quaterpipe and snapping a sharp carve back down) I find the only difference is you weight your back foot a lot more while surfing while turning (which you don't on the ripstik)
skate bowl, especially if you're regular footed. going frontside and actually carving on the wall as opposed to just pumping is a lot like carving on a wave
Skurf some boat wake!
I know you think this probably doesnt help much right now but just go for it with wreckless abandon man.. As long as your not dropping in on others or putting other surfers in harms way by your flailing apendages, just go for it bro.. Paddle into every wave you can and throw your board and your body all over the place until you get a feel for it.. Its all about speed, take off fast, turn fast, pump fast, never get off the rail.. Just do it like you dont give a ****.. There it is:
Step 1: Surf like you jsut dont give a **** about falling or smacking your face on the board or looking like an idiot. Who cares what anyone else thinks. Its your style man, and you want it to be your own, not someone elses. Just go for it man, fall all over the damn place. Foot placement and all that other stuff will come with time.