A few things I did off-camera:
Went ahead and purchased the Wise Owl sword since it's pretty solid and only three upgrades away from the penultimate weapon in the game.
I turned my Shamshir into a Synthsphere to give it a major boost; now I'm one-shotting almost every enemy in the woods.
Got enough points via fishing to get a Diamond, which boosts your anti-metal attribute by 10 and all other attributes by 5. Very handy. That was also enough to upgrade Xiao's Steel Slingshot to a tier 2 weapon, the Hardshooter.
I also absentmindedly went ahead to floor 9 of the Wise Owl Forest, which results in another QTE. However, I did get a perfect on it. As a reward for doing that, the game gives you a random gem. I got a Pearl in this case.
If you're a perfectionist, you'll probably want to do this for every QTE that comes along. You'll also want to save before you use any defense-boosting items, as they give a random bonus between 5-7 points.