Certainly, getting familiar with the machine by sewing some real simple projects, like I did with the boots, is what is necessary. The little bit of sewing I've done has made a huge difference for me ... I'm gaining confidence; learning where to keep my eyes fixed (on the foot and the seam, not the needle) and I'm beginning to sew steadier; learning how to steer the material.
Another trick for beginners, I think, is to sew in short bursts.
That small pulley sure helped me out with going at a slower pace. I imagine, at some point, I may want to put the larger pulley back on again, like Dan says.