I was scrolling through posts in the Nanowrimo group on Facebook earlier when I noticed several people all sharing a very common concern though communicated in various ways. Everyone there is either searching for a way to stand out from the crowd, or for a lucky few, they have discovered it. Even those that write fan fiction still have the desire to put their own signature on what they create. We are inspired by so many things depending on who we are and what triggers our imagination that it can be certain we include aspects of all our inspiration as well as our own views.
I saw a post asking advice about whether the person should stop reading all together so that their writing would not be "inspired" by the books in order to keep their story unique. I can understand where it could be a concern that our writing may reflect what we are reading or watching on television. I was once told though that five writers could read the same books, watch the same shows and then be instructed to create a story based on their inspiration. They would come up with stories across the spectrum with a range in genres as well as subject matter.
We all have our own backgrounds, points of view and futures that we are working towards. The paths we walk play into our writing far more than what we watch or read. The biggest concern would be watching marathons of the same shows or reading only one author or genre. It may not cause the writer to incorporate a character or theme from the shows or books but it can narrow the writer's view. I read while I write but I do my best to read a number of genres while watching several different styles of shows if I watch much at all while writing.
We as writers want to put our own spin on what we witness in the world. We create stories that reflect ourselves. That in and of itself makes it unique. No one else is you therefore no one else can write your story. While I agree that using fan fiction or similar styles can be great practice, if examined closely we can begin to see our own patterns emerge. It is a difficult thing to find your voice but sometimes it speaks louder than we realize. Because it is our own we simply do not recognize it. Hiding in plain sight we have a way of communicating that is our's and our's alone. So fear not my fellow writers. Our voices are heard and developing all the time it is just a matter of locating it among the white noise and giving it the distinct megaphone to be heard clearly.