Why I Currently Don’t Want To Write Under a Pen Name
When I started writing on Medium, I wasn’t concerned about growth. I decided it would be fun to publish a post. My main goal was to avoid the hassle of setting up a blog. My name was put there because I couldn’t be bothered to come up with something catchier.
A pen name or pseudonym is a fictitious name under which authors publish their literary works. The publication Modern Parent gives one-off opportunities to do so. Some parents publish under their name, but the publication also offers parents who seek advice but wish to remain anonymous the option to submit their writing, which will then be published by the author(s) working under the author collective, also named “Modern Parent”.
Writing under a pen name has clear advantages. The trail of words you’re leaving behind can never be tracked back to you, a useful feat if you’re keen on your privacy. If you find yourself in an unsafe environment where free speech is not a given, protecting your identity might even be necessary to guarantee your own and your family’s safety.
One might argue that in such scenarios speaking out and standing up for yourself is even more important to break loose from the grip of the free-speech oppressors, but doing so can put a target above your head, and who knows at what cost. If the home or community you live in is not safe, the same counts here. Speaking out under your real name could make your life very uncomfortable, if not, again, unsafe.
Hate spewers who seek an outlet for the dissatisfaction they feel in their life might try to rain on your parade. But, if you write under a pen name, their snark comments might feel farther away. Someone who disses on your pen name is not directly dissing you. They are sticking figurative chewing gums on your pseudonym.
I imagine using the pseudonym to be a clear benefit for the more sensitive folks amongst us. Using a pen name can feel as though you are not on the front lines, whether under praise or attack.
The character behind the pen name can be someone else than you or an extension of your personality. Zulie Rane whose words you might have come across? In one of her YouTube videos (she has a YouTube channel with lots of videos about writing on Medium) I found out this name is a pseudonym, and it’s the only one of its kind! Who would’ve thought?
I imagine it being easy to kill the pseudonym if for whatever reason you want to discontinue your relationship. Using multiple pseudonyms could even be a way to deeply explore different sides to your personality, feel as though you can write in all honesty and without restrictions, without the fear of facing backlash from the public. Again, the pen name will get the backlash, not you.
I gave writing under a pen name some thought but figured it would be better for me to write under my own name.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking up to all these mortals who have published books under their name. “Wow, that would be amazing,” I pondered. To compile a tangible product of the words you wrote, which are now accessible to anyone interested, and to proudly mark this product with your name.
By writing under my name, I am forced to decide whether I stand by what I am saying now. As I often weave life experiences in my stories, there is a possibility that someone from a long-gone past comes across one of my stories. Despite not using any names or sometimes deliberately changing genders or using the gender-neutral form “they”, maybe they’ll think “hold on, this sounds familiar” and dislike what I wrote. They are entitled to feel like that. I am still writing about my experience from my perspective. I share my view on a situation and how I look at it.
Whether someone else likes what I wrote is not within my control or the scope of things to worry about. I am learning to embrace the past and all that has happened. My story is mine, and only mine to tell.
Using a pen name would be far too enticing. How so? I would feel a strong temptation to exaggerate events or add to them to make the whole story more appealing to the reader than in reality. When writing about personal growth and self-awareness and the like, I don’t want to blow things out of proportion for the sake of a couple of thousand extra views. I want to tell it how it is, from my point of view.
By writing under my name, I need to stay honest. Or I will start to despise my own work. I prefer not to lie or insert clickbait everywhere because “that works well”.
I like to think that what touches the internet is forever. In a couple of years I might read one of these pieces, or even the one I am writing today, and think, “Okay, that was badly written”. Maybe I’ll see the experience or a story I’ve shared in a different light. As another writer on Medium wrote, “this writing is a timestamp of my thoughts today” (roast me in case this is you, I’m happy to add a quote and tag). It might change. I might disagree with my past self in the future. As long as I stand by my writing today.
Going back to Zulie: what I found interesting, is that she explains how using the pseudonym helps her feel freer to express herself. I feel differently in this regard. It feels more like a “limitation” to me, at this point in my life, so I won’t use one. We need to be aware of why we’re doing what we are, and never blindly copy those you look up to or who are ahead of you.
I nééd to face my insecurities of undressing my mind and all potentially going to waste. Because what I fear when I hit that publish button. I would feel like I’m once again hiding behind something or someone else. And I don’t want to hide or be scared anymore. Growing up I was often told to keep quiet, not draw the attention, and just behave as if all is fine.
Today, I choose to express myself the way I see fit. Writing serves as a main outlet.
My writing will develop. Over time, the topics will surely diverge. And I’m doing it, one story at a time, all under my name.