I believe most experienced users employ visual mode in very few/specific cases.
You could use visual mode mainly as a tool to help learn the commands (like training wheels to learn to ride a bike).
For example: you type
vwwc to replace the next two words, until you feel comfortable to type
c2w and drop the visual aid. This answer ("Your problem with Vim is that you don't grok vi") has more information about it.
In addition to the movement regarding large blocks explained on that answer, Vim provides lots of movements to use in the current line, such as
f/F/t/T. And most of them accepts a count.
So you could replace up to the start of this sentence by typing
c2Fm to replace up to most on the previous sentence. Once you can avoid smaller steps such as j and l it becomes easier to drop visual mode.
Vim has a really good documentation/help system, so it is probably the best way to learn such movements (just type
:help). Here are some other good resources: