There was a time in college where I had what I thought were very good ideas, but I struggled to formulate and express them. Writing itself was arduous. I often got A minuses, in English classes, especially, whereas in every other class I would get an A or A+. I definitely had a vision that I wanted to articulate, but I didn't identify very much with the way literature was taught. I'm sure the profs were correct in not thinking these papers were extraordinary.
In Grad school I still struggled, but now I could articulate my ideas in a way that other people thought was good. After that I simply knew what I was doing and did it.
So the formative stage was the first two years of grad school.