I know from working with glass that just practicing the same skills over and over again results in great improvement. But this improvement can only be found on the level of technical skill. When I focus only on my technical skills my creativity starts to atrophy. If I focus only on following my creativity, the end product becomes more and more impractical and harder for others to appreciate and relate to. My current reality is that if I can’t make things that other people want I don’t get to make things at all.
Improving your technical skills is like walking a path and never leaving it. It gets you there, and it gets you there fast and safely but you’ll never discover anything that’s not along this path. Following your muse or being creative is like trying to catch a butterfly. Just as it settles down and you think you’ve finally got it, it flights off in some other direction or even completely out of sight.
To any creative person I give the following advice, try to give equal attention to the path and to the butterfly. Don’t be afraid to leave the path, and don’t despair at the time you “lose” chasing the butterfly. But when the butterfly goes so far off the path that you stand to lose your way, let it go for a while. It will always come back to you.