“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
What do these two quotes have in common? Their authors have first names that begin with "E", right? Well, okay, but I was thinking more along the lines of this: They touch upon the core tension of the writer's life. On the one hand, we have inspiration/desire, that child within us with bright eyes and an inquiring imagination that demands we create something interesting out of this chaos we call life. On the other, we have perspiration/skill, that adult within us with a steady gaze and unyielding practicality that demands we produce something good.
The art is in balancing these two drives. If our writing loses spontaneity, it's not going to hold a reader's interest. If our writing is not sufficiently coherent, it's not going to hold a reader's attention. This is a dilemma we must overcome if we are to earn our successes.
My process these days is to get the first draft out quickly without rushing (how's that for conflicting advice?), then edit the boring parts down to nothing, and polish the interesting parts until they shine (and no more). Add a pinch of salt, and bake until golden.
What's your recipe?