Apologies in advance for this a soft question which has no closed, correct answer. This is probably the best forum to ask my question.
I am a third year graduate student in theory group of a top-15 school in US. So far, I've been doing decently well. I have a first author theory paper and a first author practical paper so far. My advisor has been superb in helping me honing my skills but I feel stuck (and helpless).
So far, my advisor has been a helping hand and a guiding force to always point me right directions and pose the right questions (not too abstract, not too concrete) which have been instrumental in me finding the answers to research problem. As I try to be more "independent", i.e, ask the right questions and prove results, I feel I have failed miserably and quickly feel overwhelmed. I feel that I don't have the maturity of a theory PhD student yet where I can ask myself the right questions and come with answers. In other words, given the right definitions and some hand holding, I am able to do things but otherwise, it becomes very hard. My sloppiness when it comes to writing proofs doesn't help either.
I am looking for advice on how can I sharpen my skills and be more "theory-minded" where I can grasp things quicker and require less hand holding. While one answer is simply to keep working and hope that experience makes me wiser, I am not sure how this will work out. The only solution I have is to actually go through come recent papers in my area and write down proofs by hand in as much detail as possible to help me nail proof writing skills and build intuition.
Any advice would be extremely helpful. Please let me know if question is unclear or needs more detail.