Countless authors choose to use a pseudonym, or “pen name” when writing. For some, such as Mark Twain or Lewis Carroll, their fictitious names become an indispensable part of their literary identity, and remain vivid and alive in the collective memory while their real names are forgotten.
Why would anyone want to use a pseudonym? The reasons are numerous, and the authors who choose to go through this route are more than you might think. For instance, consider this: Timothy Matias is not my real name. If you were to scour the Internet for me, and even if you went so far as to google my SEO-optimized screen name “nspyraishn”, you would find a lot of online activity from this man called Timothy Matias. However, none of the results would point you to my real identity– in fact, I checked all 1880+ google results to be sure of this. So why go through all the trouble of inventing and maintaining a pseudonym? What’s in it for us? There are several reasons, in fact, for choosing to write under a name that is not one’s own. Most of them work as a layer of protection for the author, while others, in my opinion, just help him to be more free to explore the world he sees without having to suffer from any constraint- not even from himself.
Some advantages of using a pseudonym:
1. LEGAL PROTECTION:
While I live in America, a country renown for the freedom of speech it grants its citizens, it would be foolish of me to rely on the U.S.’s continued support of such rights, as laws change all the time, and I need a pseudonym to prepare for those changes.
2. PROFESSIONAL IMMUNITY:
Even if my country doesn’t mind what I have to say, there is a high possibility that my job might. The place I work for can terminate employees for saying something deemed to be “offensive” on the internet, and I can’t take the risk of losing my job because of something I write– after all, without income, how would I get the “brain food” to write with?
3. SOCIAL SAFEGUARDING:
My creative personality can also interfere with my business relations and other professional endeavors, as (depending on what type of content I’m writing) I can quite literally become a different person, and that personality could be disturbing to my colleagues, offend my friends, or even hurt them. This leads to a conundrum: should I limit myself as a writer to ensure that I don’t end up hurting the people I care for? I don’t want my creativity to cause misunderstandings but, at the same time, I can’t constrict my writing into the strict parameters of what is always “safe” and “kosher: to write. If I can’t take the risk of stepping over the lines, I will not be able to really let myself go as a writer. To prevent that, Timothy Matias is my creative persona, and he is free to do whatever he likes.
4. MORAL FREEDOM:
There are many characters that I have written about, or wish to write about, that go against my own moral stances and ethical code. For this reason, to avoid becoming morally confused or contradicting myself, Timothy Matias becomes my moral Agnostic, and is given free license in my place to violate, revile, sacrilege, blaspheme, and contradict any belief, perspective, axiom, or premise he wishes. And, the best part of it all is that, unlike us, he can get away with it. Paradoxically, because Timothy Matias is a hypocrite by nature, I don’t have to be. I can be honest, and peaceful, and even boring if I like, while Tim challenges the world, not caring about what people will think about him. I have to admit, out of all the reasons to have a pseudonym, this one is the most fun!
P.S. If you are excited to create your own pseudonym, check out this article.