Real or pen name?

pen name, different identity

source: pixabay.com

Have you ever wondered if it was better to publish/write under a pen name or under the real name? (Be that a novel, non-fictional book, a blog or a website).

As a blogger and/ or aspiring writer  I have been thinking a lot about this issue, and actually, that’s why I am reluctant to fill in the about me page. Not sure I want to publish on this blog under my real name, meanwhile I use the generic “admin”.

If you wonder why I do that, the answer lays on my real profession (well, that sounds like being a blogger is not a real profession for me, and that’s right! – or that I don’t take it too seriously, and that’s not right, I do take blogging seriously, however, I wouldn’t call myself a professional blogger).

My real profession implies being in contact with many people who might want to look up my name on the internet in order to find out more about my likes and dislikes, what I’ve been doing, thinking and so on…generally more about my private life and that’s not good at all. Because they are not supposed to know details of my private life.

Hence, the need for keeping my real name secret. But at the same time, I’m not comfortable with using a pen name openly and to describe myself like: “I am XY and ….etc..etc..” because I’m not XY. Sure, I thought a better way would be to specify the name used is my pen name, not the real one. Thinking about that… Not sure how people would react, I mean they might not like at all and maybe using admin is just more appropriate.

 

 Why do people use pen names

 

After I have made some researches on the internet and witnessed discussions on various groups regarding this subject, I realized that there are many writers out there that struggle with the same issue. The reasons may vary from person to person but the fret is the same.

Here are some of the reasons why do people use pen names I’ve found out:

  • First or last name is a bit of a nightmare to read, and no reader will ever bother to remember it. And in most cases, the worry has an objective fundament. The names are so weird and hard to pronounce and to remember that is indeed much better to use a pen name. The famous movie stars of the past and present always change their names so people would remember them easily.
  • Some write stories about people that are still alive (or are inspired by them) or about their bad deeds and don’t want the real people to know that. If the author’s name sounds unfamiliar, people would not have reasons to think they served as an inspiration.
  • Also, if they’re writing in a more controversial style, such as erotica, political opinions, perversions or on any other hot subject, it may be better for them to use a pen name on their work.  Two centuries ago,  Mary Ann Evans has written by the name of George Eliot in order to change the softly female-novelist style of her time.  Also, Mark Twain was not the real name of the famous writer, but Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Even in our era writers use pseudonyms to publish their controversial work, like the author of the erotic romance novel  “Fifty Shades of grey”, who publish it under the pen name E.L. James, while her real name is Erika Mitchell.
  • Sometimes, a pen name is used by a prolific author to avoid overexposure. If he/she writes more than one novel a year, he might want to use a pen name for the second novel. 
  • Bloggers avoid writing under real name because of their profession (like my case) or simply because they want to write about sensitive issues that they don’t like their family or friends to hear about. They feel a lot safer and secure to completely separate the blogging life from their personal life, kind of less naked by being anonymous using a pen name. However, this has some disadvantages I’ll write later about. 
  • Some other bloggers write paid advertorials under pen names for obvious reasons. They don’t want the entire world to know where the money comes from. 
  • Many bloggers are working in a company and they don’t want their bosses or colleagues to hear about their other interests. Not to mention to read on their blogs about the annoying day they had just have at work because of a nasty boss. :))
  • Writing under the real name will cause you problems when called for a job interview. It is known the employers have the bad habit of searching on google for pieces of information about the person they are about to interview and a personal blog with all ups and downs is not the best place to start from.

 

Some of the advantages of using a pen name

 

Using a pen name gives you the liberty to write about anything you have in mind or is running in your life without being concerned about the opinions of your friends, family, colleagues, bosses, neighbors and some others acquaintances. Nor you’re in danger to be recognized on the supermarkets as being the blogger who wrote this and that.

That freedom comes in a package with a real chance to discover parts or your personality that were reprimed, discharged and/or hidden even from your conscious self. You got to discover things about your authentic self and personal identity from the feedback you receive from your readers. It happens to me when I first start using the internet and joined a forum under a pseudonym. I could freely express my worries and ask some uncomfortable questions (it was a religious forum) due to the fact that I felt protected by the pen name. After all, nobody knew my real name and where I was from and even if some of them got astonished by the boldness of my inquiries, that didn’t really affect me. I could stand the pressure and the negative feedback. If I were to use my real name, I wouldn’t even dare to ask something.

Using a pen name would allow you to approach a different style of writing, one that your former readers are not accustomed to. If you wrote until then a dramatic novel and you want to start an erotic one, using a pseudonym is a good idea. Or if you’ve written sometime in the past a piece that you’re not particularly proud of, a pen name will allow you to start a new career as a writer or a blogger.

You can express more freely controversial opinions about political, religious, and general stuff of life without fearing to be judged and rejected by the people who know you.

A pen name will help to protect your private life or your family life from the prying eyes. You cannot be stalked by your fans (supposing you become some of a little internet star) if they don’t have a clue who you really are.

 

Some of the disadvantages of using a pen name

 

If it happens that one of your blog posts will become very popular on social media you might feel the need to brag about it and to say that blog is yours. Or if the book you have written suddenly raise to become the best-selling book (as it actually happened to some writers) also you’ll want to come out with your real name. The urge to feel appreciated as the real persons we are and not the pseudonym we use is much stronger that one might expect. So be sure you have this in mind when starting a blog or a book.

Also, there are many bloggers meeting where you’d like to go. You need to present yourself and to explain why do you use a pen name. That might be uncomfortable, plus you have to ask people to not use your real when writing about you.

People might become suspicious if you’re not using your real name when writing and usually they think of you have some bad intentions. Is hard to fight the general idea that a blogger who writes under his real name is more worthy to be followed than others who don’t. I have read many posts written by people who post under real names against the practice of writing under a pen name. Some of them declared they don’t like to read a blog if they don’t know who the blog belongs to, although they may never meet in real life the blogger.

The situation is easier when comes to writers who use a pen name, their readers don’t mind that much about the real person who wrote the book if they liked. I assume in the future in the blogging field things will change too and people will eventually come to appreciate the content even if is not connected with the real name of the blogger.

Another disadvantage is that a pen name requires different social media accounts than the ones for the real name. And a lot of efforts to keep them completely separate. That is not an easy thing to do. Our mind might trick us sometimes to mess up the two worlds.

 

What about you? Do you blog under your real or pen name? And if you choose to use a pen name, what are your reasons to do that? 

Thank you for stopping by!

Looking forward to hearing your comments.

 

 

Share your thoughts

  1. using pen name relieves you of pressures. you can blog with ease and without worries. However, if you want to grow as a professional blogger, real name is better

  2. I write with my own name and I write about all things under the sun – from the very personal to downright outrageous. I’ve never been concerned about my name being attached to my own story – I just own it 🙂
    Katja xxx

  3. I have thought a lot about it. First when I started I wrote only under my pen name but with time I started slipping my real name in there more and more. In some strange way it seems to work best for me when I’m very personal. I guess using my real name is part of that. Interesting post!

    • Thank you! That’s an interesting switch, something must have happened to your confidence in order to change from pen name to real name.

  4. Both options are ok for me. I now use my real first name and i have shorted my last name but if someone search for me will easily find my whole real name. In that case i don’t share so many private details.

  5. I had a blog for so long under a fake name, just to talk about my day to day life. It was SO therapeutic. Although I love blogging on my personal account, it wasn’t the same. I see the benefits to both.

  6. This is exactly what I am currently going through. I have a blog I run anonymously because I write about people close to me and I wouldn’t want them to know. Not that I write bad things about them.
    Also, I want to be successful at blogging and also live a simple life like walking down the street in a casual dress.
    Pen name is a Yes for me.

    Love this article!

  7. A lot of thought went into this. For now, I use my own name but there are some topics I’d like to cover that I’d be more comfortable using a pen name for.

  8. I somewhat like the idea of being anonymous online but I think you would miss out too much on the good aspects if you don’t deny who you are. At least that’s what it feels like to me, I’m writing quite personally as well and sometimes I feel like “You didn’t just publish this for the world to see, employers etc” but I think only in that way you can reap what you put out there.
    x finja | http://www.effcaa.com

  9. Good insights. I’ve recently launched a blog using my actual name and seem to have an ongoing debate (with myself) on whether I’ve chosen the right direction. Thanks for your research and analysis on the topic. More ideas for my mental clutter.

  10. There are many pros and cons to this discussion, I guess each one of us writes/ blogs for different reasons, if you are a lifestyle blogger penning your daily life you may want to keep that private, however if you work with brands on reviews etc than you would need your real name and Id as your readers would need to feel that you are a real person they can trust and relate to. Brands would want to know your ID too.

    • I think writing reviews under a pen name won’t be a problem at all because the readers might expect a real person (not a robot) to actually write on a blog. The name would not make any difference for readers on the other side of the planet for instant. Why an American would care to know what my real name is? The readers of Mark Twain didn’t care whether he was publishing under his real name or not, yet he was appreciated and paid. The same for many other writers.
      Brands will definitely know my name in order to pay me, of course, but I wouldn’t have a problem with that since the financial transactions won’t be public anyway.

  11. It is all about what you care and what you don’t. So what if you write something controversial or personal and people recognize you. If you choose to express, which you have a right to, the name should not be a concern, unless you aim at governments, policies but even then, your blogs should have credibility and no lose, or misleading content. It depends from person to person. I choose my personal name to write through. Blogging is expressing your view towards things, so why hide your self when you do it. As they say, everyone have their own reasons but I can’t live a dual life

  12. I love your post. Since i have already used my real name for my blog, can i switch to a pen name? I’m itching to write about uncomfortable private issues, but i always attempt it with a pinch of salt.

    • Sure you can, Ezekwesiri, actually a lot of people do that. I myself have a professional blog on my real name.

  13. Hi, I’m sure many bloggers use a pen name and good luck to them if they wish to keep it peerage from their everyday life’s. It makes a good contrast from those who share their everyday life’s via blogging. As they say variety is a good thing.

    • I always wondered if those who write about their private life under their real name do really share their most intimate thoughts about events and people around them. Sincerely, I doubt they do that.