Stage 1: My Writing is a Gift to You!
This a time when a write believes that all that they write is good, no great, a master piece. Which is very important since, fledgling writer's spend twice as much time day dreaming about making the big time as they do putting pen to paper. Writers at this stage are simultaneous unaware of rules and entirely confident that such things would only be a hindrance to the creative process.
Stage 2: Rules Rule and Humble Pie is Served!
At some point every writer must extract their head from their ass and get down to the business of writing. While eating his or her fair share of humble pie, the writer will become an expert on the rules. He or she will set forth to deliver the message of the rules to all parties, willing and unwilling. The rules are as fine a feathered friend as God himself. While simultaneously handing critique partners their hat for not obeying the rules, writers at this state will bemoan the very rules they worship.
State 3: Thou Shal Break the Rules Because Thou can
At some point writers begin to reach the level of competency. They not only know the rules but have learned to use them to varying degrees of effect. They have eaten a lot of humble pie and served large slices to other writers while smiling kindly; humble pie is best served with a smile. But the pride in the rules has passed. They are no longer a thing to worship but an object of intrigue. Writer's at this stage are like children with a knew toy. They bend twist and sometimes obliterate the rules and despite total anarchy, people respond favorably. Yes, there are those still thumping the Rule Bible (this is not a real thing) but they are free to do what they want and confident because they know exactly what they are doing when they do it. This is a time of experiment and discovery.
The three stages of a writer's career really aren't stages at all. They are a continuum, often overlapping and sometimes experienced simultaneously. Nobody can gain equal mastery over every skill at the same time. And sometimes we will forget something we know while learning something we didn't.
Anyway, this is what I was thinking today and so I wrote it down.