Voice (or How NaNoWriMo Helped Me Find My Writing Voice)

This month I'm participating in the A to Z Blogger's Challenge, found here. Every day of April (except for Sundays), we are posting a blog with the theme of A to Z.

V is for Voice. 

I've recently finished reading a book called "Finding Your Writing Voice" by Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall. I have to admit, it's taken me several months to get through it. Part of that is because of the variety of prompts included in this book. The other part is because there are so many magnificent points that I have to constantly put the book down and stew over my incapabilities as a writer.

For example: "You can learn the concepts of craft by taking classes and reading books. But you won't know how to work with them and they won't have concrete meaning unless you discover them in the outpourings of your own voice. This is because the craft of fiction wasn't invented by critics and teachers. It comes from stories and the voices that create them." (Page 74, paperback version, published 1994.)

Wow. So true.

But what really struck me this month was how an "exercise" like NaNoWriMo serves to put everything I've learned into practice.

I don't know about you, but I get so caught up in editing my first drafts (sometimes to the nth degree) that I forget to actually write new material. NaNoWriMo helps me focus on simply being creative, no holds barred. No expectations, no agenda in mind, simply a word count goal and a date to finish by.

It's astoundingly liberating. It's the main reason I like participating in NaNoWriMo. By forcing myself to use all the things I've learned, and by doing it on a time crunch, what comes out becomes...natural. It's almost counter-intuitive, but you begin to speak in your character's voice--in your voice.

Have you participated in NaNoWriMo before? Or have you been holding out on giving NaNoWriMo a shot?