This post is mostly aimed at authors, but I think others may also enjoy reading it to get an understanding as to why we use pseudonyms.
So… let’s talk pen names. Or pseudonym, alias, professional name, moniker, fictitious name, nom de guerre, nom de plume — whatever you call it, it’s not your real name.
If you don’t already know this, I use a pen name. I knew right away that I was going to use one, but many people struggle with this decision.
For some, using a pen name is necessary because of what they write and how it contradicts with their real life persona. For others, it’s because they write in multiple genres and they may not want the two to interact. For still others — like myself — it’s for anonymity and, thus, a type of shield.
I have, like many of us, an enormous problem with imposter syndrome. If you’re new to this concept, let me explain:
Imposter syndrome often involves feelings of self-doubt in something you may be working towards, whether or not you actually do have the skills, education, experience, etc, to accomplish your goals, because what you’re doing is being put out in front of people and their scrutiny. Oftentimes, you do have the skills and know-how to accomplish anything you’re working towards, but you see others’ success or even failures and develop a deep sense of self-doubt, telling yourself you either can’t do what you’re trying to do or that you shouldn’t do it or even that you don’t deserve what you’re working towards.
To counter that, if you’re dealing with imposter syndrome right now, let me tell you something:
YES, YOU DO!
YES, YOU CAN!
YES, YOU WILL!
Whether you have the skills now or you need to learn them, whether you have the education now or need a little extra, whether you have the experience now or are just at the beginning of your journey, you can succeed at what you set your mind to… as long as you put in the work to accomplish that goal.
Nothing comes without work. So if you’re telling yourself that you have imposter syndrome but you’re not working towards the goal you want, then you don’t have imposter syndrome, you may have another syndrome called procrastination.
My reasoning for using a pen name has a lot to do with imposter syndrome but that’s only the start of it. Using a pen name gives me the anonymity to do and say things that I wouldn’t normally say or do. As I said, it’s my shield.
I’m not talking about those trolls who hide behind the computer screen and droll out insults and “hard truths” — the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard of — or those scammy, spammy shitheads.
No. I’m talking about being able to set my creativity free without fear of the monstrous imposter syndrome rearing its ugly head. I’m talking about being able to be myself without fear of backlash. Being able to write what I want, how I want it, unhindered, unrestrained, unbridled, and being okay with everything I write. All because I write through my author pen name.
Using a pen name has unleashed my imposter syndrome and allowed it move on to the next poor soul — sorry about that — so it’s no longer clinging to my back as I sit at the computer screen making me wonder if I shouldn’t delete everything I just wrote and give up on this dream of making writing something I can support my family on.
Using a pen name has basically given me the freedom to live outside myself. I can hide myself behind Remy Fisher, promote her writing, push her newsletter, and market her books all while feeling like I’m doing it for someone else — which is something I love to do anyway, encourage others.
I don’t know if I’ll ever reveal my real name, but it won’t matter. I am Remy Fisher and I’m not Remy Fisher. She writes for me and I market for her. It’s a win-win.
So if anything written here has resonated with you, if you’re struggling with your writing and whether you think people will want to read it — fun fact, they do! — or any other reason that’s held you back from putting your writing out into the world, I would highly recommend using a pen name. You won’t regret it.
For readers, have you ever wondered about pen names and why authors use them? Does it matter to you?
For writers, do you use a pen name or not? And why did you choose that direction?
Either way you roll,
Happy reading, Beauties!
I have always been curious about the writers making that decision (why wouldn’t they want to take full credit for their work?) so this was delightfully insightful!
Congratulations on wrecking the beast that is Imposter Syndrome! I wrestle with it with myself a lot, so I feel that!
As a reader, I never particularly wondered. I always assumed that it had more to do with anonymity, or, maybe just having a more interesting/less common name to slap on their work.
I started writing under pen-names for many reasons. Largely for privacy’s sake. I also write in different genres, and while I love the romance genre, there’s a certain reputation surrounding it (unfair as it is). Also, if I’m to be completely transparent, there is a certain measure of comfort to be taken in using another name. If people criticize my writing/tear apart my work, I can *almost* dissociate. It’s not *me* they take issue with. It’s the person who is writing the books.