The major takeaway from my photography classes that I got from my formal photography education was insanely simple, yet it was never explicitly taught. There are 3 simple steps to improving your photographs
Play. Fail. Grow.
You've got to be willing to experiment. Try something you're not comfortable with. Use lenses, filters, cameras, editing programs, tripods, drones, rails, flashes, strobes, flashlights absolutely anything that you can get your hands on. Read the instruction manuals for each of the items to know what their potential is and get a basis for how to use them. Watch YouTube tutorials to learn new techniques and then put them into practice. Don't get too focused on the intended purpose for everything.. Have a crazy idea? Great try it! Failure is not something to be afraid of.
You are going to fail so hard at so many of the experiments that you try. Keep in mind that failure is not an ending, failure is a stepping stone. If something doesn't work out tweak your set up, come at the problem from a new angle and maybe you'll stumble on something more visually appealing than before. Keep at it.
This is the most important step. Incorporate all of your learnings from the process into your repertoire of tools. Work to remember what type of experiments you have done and what the results were. You never know when one of those failures you experienced last week or 5 years ago holds the key to succeeding at a task today.
Case in point
The photo above is of a sculpture I created. It's a bee made of plastic cutlery and fire. The head and thorax were made in 2010, the abdomen, wings and legs were created in 2015. I had tried countless times to make the wings and abdomen in 2010 and absolutely nothing I did when how I needed them to. For whatever reason that abdomen gave me so much grief. In reality its one of the more simple shapes on the sculpture but it had to attach at the correct angle to the armature within the thorax. Eventually the project was set aside but never out of mind. I picked the bee up again later and was able to build on everything I had learned in the time since I began. Finally there was payoff in the completion of this intricate sculpture!