Soft glass rods are easily overpowered whichh means they bend more than they need to for the length of line being cast which is going to cause the opposite of the desired result. You mentioned "When I do try and muscle the line out further...". Whenever you look at a good caster, the first thing you notice is that it looks effortless. Adding more muscle, especially to a soft rod, will cause too much bend and result in tailing loops and knots in your leader. Search Youtube for "wind knots when fly casting - cause and correction" and you can see an example of overpowering the rod causing problems.
Try not to limit your casting stroke by thinking of a clock face. You make a short stroke for a short cast and a long stroke for a long cast. Each differing length of line requires a stroke of a different length so how could they all go from 10-2? Stand with your casting side foot slightly back so that when you turn your head to watch your backcast when practicing, you will not move the rod off the straight line path. Stand with your feet together, freeze at the end of your back cast and turn back to look at it and you will see the rod tip move. Do the same with your foot back and it will not. If you do not watch your back cast when practicing, you will never know if you should repeat that stroke because it was good or change it because it was bad. Most bad forward casts are partly due to a poor back cast.
In order to throw a tight loop, which you will need to achieve distance, the rod tip has to maintain a straight line path. Here is an easy way to check to see if your rod tip is following that straight line. I assure you it is not if you are bending your wrist.