A few years ago, an aspiring writer asked me to look at a few chapters of his book. I did and wrote back, "It's as good as thirty other books; but it's not better than thirty other books." By that I meant it was all right. It wasn't particularly insightful and he wrote nothing significant that hadn't been said countless times.
Whenever I hear agents and editors at conferences, they say they want excellent writing. By excellent, I think they mean more than cleverly crafted sentences, but they want distinctive writing as well. "Say it to me in a fresh way" is my interpretation.
I'll tell you the secret to distinctive writing: It comes from within and expresses the depth of your soul. The best kind of writing occurs when you speak from your heart (and it doesn't have to be autobiographical). It's called being vulnerable or transparent. Too many writers can't do that. They had an insatiable need to be liked or admired and those needs become more important than being true to their convictions.
I would rather be disliked for who I am than to be admired for who I'm not.