Every writer I know at one time or another has said (to me or to others while I was eavesdropping) that they want to develop their own unique voice.
“I have to say it my way,” they’ll say. “I don’t want it to sound like anyone else.”
I’ve even known writers who refuse to read works by other writers in the chosen genre because they’re afraid the other writers’ “style” will taint their own.
It won’t taint anything. I will inform and improve, but it won’t taint.
And weirdly, then those same writers will think nothing of rewriting a story, sometimes several times, to “polish” it. To make it sound exactly like someone else’s work. Amazing.
They don’t understand. What a writer starts with the first time she writes a story is her own, unique voice. What she ends up with after all that so-called polishing is a bit of tripe that reads exactly like everything else in the genre, only not good.
Know why it isn’t as good? Because most of those professional writers didn’t rewrite their work to death.
That’s right. They didn’t polish their unique voice off of it.
Again, if you want to find your unique voice, Trust Your Subconscious. It’s been making up stories and telling them since long before you even knew the alphabet.
But wait. I know. Your voice sounds boring to you, doesn’t it?
Know what? That’s because it’s with you 24/7/365.
To other people, your voice sounds unique. Think about that. You know it’s right.
So trust it. Your subconscious knows a great deal more about telling a good story than your conscious mind does.
Your conscious mind is a guard. You use it to learn, and you use it to keep you from doing stupid things like swimming with sharks and leaning your palm on a hot burner and stepping off a 1,000 foot drop.
Even Bradbury said “Nobody’s ever thought their way to anything in literature.”
Your conscious mind exists solely to safeguard you. It won’t allow you to do or say (or write) things that are outside accepted norms. If that’s all right with you, fine.
But think about that for a moment.
You already have nothing to say that hasn’t be said before, and if you are ruled by your conscious, critical mind, you can’t even say it in an original way.
Good luck with that. Frankly, if it were me, I’d throw away my writing stuff and go sell Earth shoes or something.