What are your thoughts on this? I do use a pen name and I'm really torn about it. On the one hand it's convenient so that my private/public life are kept separate and I find I don't have to censor myself while writing. On the other hand, I sometimes wonder if I am not cheating myself by not using my real name on things I am very proud of. Thoughts?
I am struggling with the same choice for the same reasons - keeping private and public life separate and putting down my honest thoughts. If one would write a blog critical of society, it would be scary to write your own name - but at the same time somehow dishonest since people would not really know what your credibility is. I also indulge in subjects like philosophy and poetry and would not necessarily like everybody to know all that about me. I suppose the answer is to have more than one platform
I think it depends entirely on the writer and his or her circumstances at that time. Since I started writing more than 15 years ago, I've written under a lot of different names. Currently, I use my Japanese legal name, which was done for SEO results (more of a unique surname).
I would say, use your real name if you're writing online. If you are just writing novels, then you can get away with a pen name.
When I started writing online ten years ago, I chose a pen name because I wanted to keep my private and online lives separate. It's not a good idea, because these days, readers want to "connect" with bloggers. Even Google expects you to have an "About Me" page where you post a photo and explain who you are. You need to be on Google+ and Facebook (both of which officially insist on real names, not pseudonyms) so your readers can follow you. All that is easier if you use your real name, but it does mean you wave goodbye to privacy.
It rather depends on whether being linked to online writing will have a net positive or negative effect. Given that I charge upwards of $1000 to write tewwibly serious reports under my real name I choose not to use that same name for writing content about two headed-calves that makes $50 a month.
It's really a personal choice. People use pen names for a plethora of reasons; their real name might be difficult to pronounce or odd sounding, they might want keep their writing life seperate from their personal life or they might write predominantly within a genre like erotica and feel that their friends and family would see them differently if they read their work. Some authors write under their given name in one genre and a pen name in another genre because they want to keep their different audiences separate. There really isn't any harm in using a pen name, as long as you choose one that's distinctive to you (ie. no other writer uses it; you want people to find you if they google your name, not some other writer!) and you don't pick something ridiculous, like P. B. Jellytime.
On seconds thoughts, that would be an awesome pen name.
I use my real name for non-fiction, and a pen name for my fiction
I've recently switched to using my real name for online writing so that potential employers and clients can more easily find my writing when they inevitably Google me, though I have published some fiction under a pen name. I will likely continue to use the pen name if I decide to write more fiction in the future, however, and I did mention the pen name on my new writing portfolio website to kind of link both "identities" together. My name is sort of common, but I try to include my location and a photo with everything so people can make sure they found the right person. In today's world, I think it's important to maintain an online presence with your real name, especially for people just starting out on a new career path.
I originally wanted to use a pen name for writing for privacy reasons, and because I didn't think my real name was unique enough, but I think it seems more professional to just use your real name in most cases. If you are writing things that are controversial or that could be seen as overly unprofessional, it might be better to use a pen name (such as if you're writing erotica, as K S Lane mentioned above). If you aren't pursuing a career in a writing-related field, it might be alright to use anonymous pen name as well if you don't care about people being able to link your writing to you.
What name you use really depends on what you are writing and why you are writing.
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