Well, for one thing, I don't think that either method is better or worse than the other. Some people prefer cooking from recipes. Some people don't like to and would rather whip things up. I don't think using a recipe is indicative of a lack of talent, and honestly I find it pretty condescending when people imply as much.
In fact, most people do a mix of both. I know I do. Even experienced home cooks tend to use recipes for baking, where measurements need to be very exact, or even when they're just trying something new and unfamiliar.
And, by the way, professional chefs? They often, though not always, write everything down very exactly and follow their own recipes to a tee, because they can't afford the inconsistency of results that a home cook can. That's really where recipes shine: giving you predictable results time after time.
That being said, while there wasn't a specific moment where I went from needing recipes to being able to whip things up without a recipe, it happened maybe two years after I began cooking regularly. It's just a matter of building up the experience and the knowledge base. You learn techniques, you learn to recognize patterns in what's happening, you build a mental library of flavor combinations which work, and then you go from there.