I have a unique perspective on this sort of this thing, so I’ll be my typical wordy self in my reply. I’ve also given the concept itself years and years (and years and years) of thought, due to my “unique perspective” on it. I worry that I’ll come across a bit full of myself a time or two, but so be it, lol I’ll also be coming at this from a “solo artists” point of view, not as a band member or a collaborator would.
I think there are 2 ways that people get into playing a desired instrument. By that, I mean an instrument that they want to play, not that an instrument was forced upon them when they were young. Number 1 is those who want to play music, and number 2 is those that want to play that particular instrument. It’s quite common to be both from the beginning, or eventually develop them in unison, but there are also some that excel at one such a pace that they never develop the other.
And I know this because I’m one of the latter and never quite developed into the former. To be fair, not once have I ever not felt what I played, but until my last couple of years playing, I honestly don’t think I ever played what I felt. It’s an important distinction to make because most people think they’re the same thing. They’re absolutely not. There’s nothing wrong with either, nor is there anything wrong with thinking that. But there is a difference. And I think that most players feel what they more than they play what they feel, whether they know it or not.
I didn’t know or realize it at the time I had to retire, but it did occur to me years later when I took up an art form that I had no intention of doing anything with when I started. It was approached with the same kind of youthful exuberance that I had when I first picked up the guitar. Everything was new and exciting. Playing one lick, riff or song over and over again was life! It’s just not like that in most other art forms. What, am I going to write someone else’s screenplay or book word for word on my own paper? Paint a copy of a painter’s painting? Sure, there’s things you can learn from that, but there’s a limited amount of enjoyment doing it. But getting a new record and a tab book from your favorite players? I don’t know if I ever had more fun in my entire life that when that would happen.
I don’t regret any of it, but the point is that I spent all of my time learning stuff that I never developed as an artist, only as a guitar player. I did try to write a few tunes in my late teens, but they might as well have been called “[Insert Player]'s Outtakes”. I had played for 11 years before I played with other people and 16 before I had an actual original band that gigged. I played a bunch of shows and tours as a hired gun, but again, I was just playing other’s songs, which was perfectly in line with what I liked to do anyway. I suppose there was one regret in that I didn’t use what I learned on the instrument as a starting point for bigger, or simply something for and from me.
The OP’s desire to develop their own voice is already putting them on the right track. I think that’s an ingredient I was lacking and didn’t know it. If you have something to say, you’ll find a way to say it. Sometimes you just need to develop to tools to do it, which is where a site like this comes in. Unfortunately for me, musically speaking, I had all of the tools, I just didn’t have anything to say. But I did when I started screenwriting. I was lucky in that some pro-writer friends of mine helped me out early on and I was technically a “pro” when I started. The skills just had to catch up with it and eventually they did.
If you get into anything with the intent of the OP, you’ll get there one way or another. If there’s music in you, it’ll find a way out.