Not many of us write kiss-and-tell memoirs. But we all just might have the impulse. Life is full of stories and sharing those stories is something we seem bred to do. Maybe your storytelling is mainly around the water-cooler, the dinner table or with friends at your favorite watering hole. Putting pen to paper is a great way to record your experiences and ensure they find a home. Using a pen name lets you indulge your raconteur without the worry of embarrassing others or harming relationships you care about.
The great American novel
Maybe your stories are entirely fiction. In fact, you’ve thought about writing a short story or two, ideas that have been in a drawer since college or just the back of your mind. Publishing under a pen name is the perfect way to get your writing in front of readers with no links to your real identity. Reaction to your work will be based on your story, not who you, what you do or anything about you.
If you want to write in different genres, you can use multiple pen names.
Who knows, it could the start of something beautiful.
A pen name is the perfect way to share your love stories without worrying about your tales coming to haunt you down the line. Everybody loves a good romance and every love story is different.
Write about how you and your significant other met. Your first love. The one that got away. The trials and tribulations of modern love. You’ll probably want to change some names and places to protect the innocent (or not so innocent) but that’s easy.
Give it a try, it’s liberating. Once you get started, you might not want to stop.
Society, public policy and power
Politics is another topic perfect for pen names. Governance is an endless discussion that can get heated where the anonymity of pen names is an honored tradition. The Federalist Papers, a collection of 85 articles and essays promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution, were originally published under the pen name Publius.
Despite the fact that politics so often divides, informed debate is critical in helping people understand issues and in enabling wise decisions. And at its best, political discussion has the power to bring people together. Activism is a noble calling that all should heed when the need arises.
Have strong feelings about gun laws, immigration policy or the role of government regulation? Make your arguments and advocate your opinions. Using a pen name means you can express yourself fully free from repercussions from workmates, family or social friends. You may even come to change some minds.
For whistleblowers, a pen name is a means to expose problems or corruption in your company or community. Whistleblowers help authorities hold people accountable for criminal activity, whether it involves a single corrupt official or a large-scale, multi-national fraud scheme.
Whistleblowing and pen names are natural allies. By its nature, exposing criminal activity involves risks – for the whistleblower as well as the parties involved in the wrongdoing. The claims must be valid and accurate. The offenders risk the pains of justice. Using a pen name offers the protection of anonymity that may make coming forward possible at all.
Documenting corruption or malfeasance using a pen name can be an important first step in holding people or organizations to account and helping to right wrongs. It feels good to do good.
A taste of fame
Go to enough restaurants and you definitely start to form opinions about what constitutes a superior meal and the kind of service that works for you. But not everybody wants to be known as a restaurant critic. That may not fit with what you do for a living or how you operate in your social circles.
With a pen name, you can have your cake and eat it too. Let readers know where they can find the best menus or wine lists. What new cafes and bistros are worth a visit and what to order. And what to avoid.
Keep it up and you may find yourself with a second career.
WriterShelf is a privacy-oriented platform that lets you write using pen names.
Everyone has a story to tell. WriterShelf gives you the freedom to be yourself.