I'm on a lick kick. I mostly practice licks and transcribe nowadays. I'm interested to hear from the collective brain on the topic of how to make licks into living things. Some key approaches I use or have heard of are:
1) Working the licks with a metronome so as to internalize better.
2) Stitching licks together into etudes. (I don't do this. Should I? The stitched together frankenstein can end up seeming clunky to me.)
3) Practice by type (minor, major, dominant) over single chord backing tracks rather than just changes.
4) Play licks over tunes/backing tracks, potentially adjusting for chord type (iow.. make a maj lick into a min so as to make it fit over each chord).
5) Make the lick your own with timing adjustments and other tweaks.
The biggest challenges for me relate to simple recall and getting licks in over fast changes at jams.