While I tend to be in either the right side of the aisle, so to speak, on this matter, or in the middle, I have really started to appreciated all of those theory exercises that my teacher made me when I was little.
I've also started to realize how much growing I still have to do, especially since my brother plays blues guitar. He'll be playing different licks, and improving and even venturing into jazz, and I'll just smile and go "U-huh" when he tries to explain it to me. After a couple of times I'll get it, usually, but when he tried to explain Pat Martino's way of explaining musice theory, I just kind of got that glazed look, ya know, like little kids get when they're looking up at a giant skyscarper, or when someone's listening to you, but you can tell that none of it is sinking in.
I've managed to write 2 1/2 tunes thus far, (both hymns, pretty straight forward) just by imagination. I guess I never was one to do things the conventional way.