Sometimes I think they are writers who do not write. That "writers write" is meant to be self-evident. People like to say it. I find it is hardly ever true. Writers drink. Writers rant. Writers phone. Writers sleep. I have met very few writers that write at all.
Style and voice are different. Style is standard conventions of writing. Voice is the distinct way an individual puts words together. All good writers have a near-uniform understanding of style but a voice all their own.
The most important trait of a writer is an authentic voice. Writers have to have faith in their own voice, and their own way of doing things. Originality is the gem that every writer possesses. Originality also brings on the most merciless attacks. The world resents originality in the beginning writer, and then rewards it abundantly once that writer has been successfully published. Cherish your own voice. Don't try to sound like anybody else. Sound like yourself and take the slings and arrows and keep going.
Hearing from the writers is very useful to apprentice writers. They gain inspiration and learn more about the craft. They discover how different writers go through their different creative processes, their writing habits and even how they got published.
Start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there'll always be better writers than you and there'll always be smarter writers than you. There will always be people who are much better at doing this or doing that - but you are the only you. Tarantino - you can criticize everything that Quentin does - but nobody writes Tarantino stuff like Tarantino. He is the best Tarantino writer there is, and that was actually the thing that people responded to - they're going 'this is an individual writing with his own point of view'. There are better writers than me out there, there are smarter writers, there are people who can plot better - there are all those kinds of things, but there's nobody who can write a Neil Gaiman story like I can.
There are no words and there is no singing, but the music has a voice. It is an old voice and a deep voice, like the stump of a sweet cigar or a shoe with a hole. It is a voice that has lived and lives, with sorrow and shame, ecstasy and bliss, joy and pain, redemption and damnation. It is a voice with love and without love. I like the voice, and though I can't talk to it, I like the way it talks to me. It says it is all the same, Young Man. Take it and let it be.
You know, it's a funny thing about writers. Most people don't stop to think of books being written by people much like themselves. They think that writers are all dead long ago-they don't expect to meet them in the street or out shopping. They know their stories but not their names, and certainly not their faces. And most writers like it that way.
Sentences spoken by writers, unless they have been written out first, rarely say what writers wish to say. Writers are unlucky speakers, by and large, which accounts for their being in a profession which encourages them to stay at their desk for years, if necessary, pondering what to say next and how best to say it. Interviewers propose to speed up this process by trepanning writers, so to speak, and fishing around in their brains for unused ideas which otherwise might never get out of there. Not a single idea has ever been discovered by means of this brutal method- and still the trepanning of authors goes on every day. I now refuse all those who wish to take the top off my skull yet again. The only way to get anything out of a writer's brains is to leave him or her alone until he or she is damn well ready to write it down.
Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working. Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone.