Originally Posted by LJonesy
But surely all this leisure writing will take me, or anyone else up the mountain onto the plateau?
Practice is great, and is definitely the number one thing to grow your skill as a writer, but it isn't the only thing needed. Reading and study of the craft are also important.
Take point of view, for example. No matter how much you write, it is extremely doubtful you'll ever discover and understand depth in point of view without reading about it or reading examples of it. (What I mean by depth is the distance of the narrator from the pov character's mind.) To grow as a writer you need to not only write, but also study the art of writing.
As far as talent goes, I see those talented for fiction being split into two categories. Those talented at writing, and those talented at story telling. Raymond Feist, for example, could be called a talented story teller. But he's not going to ever be confused for Vonnegut.