I believe it is all about right brain vs left brain.
To learn photography we have to dedicate time to the left brain craft or language of the meduim. Much of what goes on in sites like this is discussion and learning of this craft. As has been said once there is a competency level there, we move on to right brain. The creative side.
The handling of the equipment at this point should be all muscle memory, all unconscous action. It is just an extention of our bodies and now we move on to making photographs that are an extension of our minds (souls). That is what will make our work unique and special and above all fulfilling.
My hockey analogy is when you play, if you start to think, you are screwed. Every play will be too late, and you'll be on your ass. You practice for years using the left brain, which looks after skating, shooting etc, where to go and when, --muscle memory.
You right brain can now take over and creativity, and at times, magic arrives to take you to another level. You are in a zone and anything is possible.