When you first start to cook, you follow recipes like holy writ. It's only natural. They're instructions, after all. The contract you make with the recipe writer or cookbook or poster on Epicurious is that if you do what they tell you in the order they tell you, it will turn out delicious.
But the world of cooking is both bigger and smaller than that.
Bigger, because there are thousands of recipes all for the same dish, any one of which you could follow to get a pretty good result, so the recipe you follow is only one of so very many options, not a scientific formula. Smaller, because if you learn the basic techniques, all the instructions about how long to brown something or roast something or melt something will seem extraneous and unnecessarily fussy. Once you cook enough, "8 to 10 minutes" becomes superfluous. It's done when it's done, and you can tell when it's done. In its way, it's magic.
And sometimes recipes just happen. Take, for instance, this chicken salad:
You can follow the recipe, but there isn't anything particularly "right" about it. It happened because it happened. It looks like this: