I, of course, am very long way to get there but I am not doing badly either.
Before I get in, I now usually check carefully where the peaks and shoulders are happening (though they all shift often), and correlate them with the feature on land. Around here, there are logs, old tires, some pattern on the cliff walls, houses past the dunes. I sometimes, pick up a big piece of drift wood and stand it in the sand to make it a marker. Though it is very difficult to say on course as very strong side currents exists especially closer to the shore. When and if you make it to the outside, you can tell I'd be hundreds of yards to the left or right of the land marker. If this happens another strategy is to walk up the current then get in. So paddling out, in of itself requires some strategy and careful navigational considerations!
While I am paddling out, as I duck through oncoming waves, I now always look which way the waves are breaking just before I dive my head under, this way I can get some general trends of where and which direction.
And finally I don't mind being in the inside a bit... you all know that. There seems to be more waves to catch especially when big waves tend to crush hard on the outside making it impossible for me to catch them.
So doing all that I can usually core some, if not great, rides almost on any conditions.