I often feel I have to explain why I write under a pseudonym so here goes:
When I first wrote using a moniker, I labelled myself as an anonymous writer. Only recently did I discover that there was a more flattering description. I was not anonymous. It’s just that I am not comfortable with releasing my real name due to various reasons that I will reveal.
I read that there is a distinction between anonymous writers and writers who use a moniker. Anonymous writers can assume different personalities and fake identities, but those who write under a nickname are as authentic and what is revealed is their real personality and honest thoughts. Their actual ‘voice’ as such. Well for me at least.
The very reason why I even started writing is to be as honest and authentic as possible and writing was an outlet for me – like breathing. I never dared to use the label of writer, but my commenters on this blog give me so much confidence, that maybe one day I will own that term proudly.
Here are my 6 reasons (& I hope I don’t sound too arrogant or offend in any way):
1. I am not brave enough to write about certain experiences as I feel that I will immensely hurt the people in my life and that’s the last thing I would want to do. It feels like such a release to write about things that upset me and if someone out there can connect with it, it encourages me further. In a way I feel the pseudonym allows me to be honest.
2. Being from the older generation I have this huge mistrust of the internet. I hope you understand as the internet only came into my life when I was in my 30’s. My relatives who are older are even more suspicious of it. Cases of internet theft really scare me. And once I had a scary internet stalker and on another occasion a death threat that really spooked me all because I had a more liberal political view. I try to refrain from commenting about politics after that. Yes, call me chicken, but there are scary people out there.
3. If I am known, then my partner and family are known and so I can’t do that to them. If they are willing then it would be a step towards me changing my mind about this. But for right now, I have to respect their wishes, so I can’t.
4. In my mid life I have become a total recluse. I often want to disappear into the ground and the thought of some people, known to me in real life, discovering that I write this blog would make me so self conscious it would devastate me. (a tad melodramatic but true as I imagine they would only mock)
5. I value my privacy and can understand why celebrities are tormented by fame. It means you have to be on your best behaviour at all times and with awful sites like STOMP out there you have to be nervous every time you’re out. It’s no wonder celebrities hate going out only to be gawked at like animals in a zoo. (the irony is, I am guilty of celebrity worship as well as derision – aka when celebs wear high heels while carrying their infants – although it’s none of my business – unless of course they promote that all mothers should do the same)
6. Can’t go backwards. Now that I’ve started off with a pseudonym and written in an unguarded manner, I can’t now reveal my real name. If I had started out writing with my real name, this blog would be very different and not so authentic. The reason why I admire online writers who are able to write honestly while revealing themselves. That takes guts.
The main problem with not revealing my real identity is that I can’t use the blog as my portfolio. I can’t take any credit for it in my real life unless the opportunity comes to me and the company does not mind me not revealing my real name and can work with that. I can’t participate in invites of any sort (not that reclusive me would want to) but some of them do seem enticing especially if books or travel are involved.
However I know deep down, I don’t want to have a space that is over-commercialized with flashing ads that distract from text or an over abundance of advertorials, where you can’t write freely and your real voice gets drowned out by what the company wants you to sell. I don’t want to write about something in order to sell it. I want to be able to give my honest to goodness truthful account. (which is why I always turn to ad free for years, Travelling Hungryboy, for food tips). My partner told me something very true – when you turn your hobby into a business – it can sometimes take the fun out of it. I guess it’s the reason musicians have such an issue with their record companies. They get their creativity squashed?
If I hate a particular product, I want to say I hate it and if I love it, then I will rave about it for free. I have been offered money to place links on my blog but I just can’t do it. It’s against my principles and those were products I would never use. Also the products I do rave about are well placed brands(aka Moleskin which is my guilty pleasure) that don’t need any help from a little ole blogger but it would be sweet if they asked. I recently noticed that the owner of a beautiful site I love, Brain Pickings, surmounts this problem by declaring hers an ad free space and having a tip jar instead.
Also I sometimes yearn to meet some awesome people and feel awful when I have to reject meeting up with them because I am not ready (secretly I think no one will like me if they knew me in real life so I’d rather keep it this way, where they can still sort of think I’m ok? I am too self conscious to ever show myself and I’m never pleased with myself. In fleeting moments I am confident, but mostly I am plagued by doubts about my ability). I really hope they understand. I am a huge fan of some lovely girls and I think they know who they are as I have raved about them before. Hope they are ok with me just chatting with them through the Blog and Twitter and Instagram. They really do feel like my colleagues – the angel ones who were kind and helped me survive the awful world of office politics and mean people. Thank you for making this recluse feel not so lonely and for understanding my agoraphobic tendencies. If I ever do come out (maybe when I’m 70 and say heck with it all – it’ll be to you guys).
woah, thanks for writing this. You speak my mind exactly. That’s why I write with a pseudonym too. It’s wanting to write and be honest but a fear of invasion of privacy and personal space.
Thank you so much for saying this…I was so scared when I wrote this. It was one of those posts where I was debating whether to hit the publish button. Afraid I would be misconstrued as arrogant which is the opposite of how I feel (really low self esteem). But often I sound stronger than I am because if an issue troubles/irks me I feel compelled to speak my mind (especially in cases of injustice or intolerance).
it’s always a fight between wanting to change the world and fame. I am not vain enough to be want fame–I avoid it–but I do want to change the world. And it is difficult to change people’s opinions if I am not heard. Food writing actually unites people. It’s writing about food that can eradicate racial, sexual, age, class discrimination, such as the entry I wrote on Saveur.
I like having recognition but I would feel too self conscious to be known. I’d rather go on my own way quietly.
Thank you so much for sharing what you think…I must go now to read that post you wrote. I do feel united in the blogging world. I feel like it’s a place for like minded folk. We tend to gravitate towards each other, even though it may be just through words and not physical presence. In a way many people in the blog world know more of me than people in real life….I find fellow writers more understanding too.
That is the joy of the internet – you are free to be whomever you’d like to be!
I was like that once, I wrote under a nickname and avoided any things like posting my photos etc on the net. But that changed when I decided that I want to write a blog about my son, things we do with my son, my love for gadgets and food and life itself. It will really be difficult to omit photos and I am full of envy of parent bloggers who managed to do just that. Taking photos but very artistically avoid a direct face on shot. It helps to give that authenticity to the posts.
For me, my blog is about keeping memories. Anything on the internet, once posted will never be completely removed. And with starting a blog, I do face little issues like colleagues coming up to me saying that “Hey, I have been reading your blog!” Personally, I seperate my professional work and my social media completely. That don’t mix. I have learnt through the hard way for that and I keep by it. I do not link my blogs and publish it on my facebook, etc. I even do not tell any of my colleagues about my blog. If they happen to find it, then it is just fate.
With showing myself on the net, there are also moments of interesting things. Like once, there was a teenage boy who was waiting in a restaurant and he came up to me and said, “I love your XXX post!” That was nice.
So far, I have yet to do what I am doing and hoping that my blog will continue for a long way to come. It should be interesting for my children to read about them in the future.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this. Yes, I wish sometimes that my situation was such that I could do the same. it seems like so much fun to be able to freely share stuff. It is a great way to store your memories. I would have been wonderful if my parents have a store of thoughts and moments – even better than a photo album 🙂 After time our memories tend to get hazy. Also for parents blogging spurs you to visit more places and makes it fun.
Great post! To tell you the truth, I didn’t really think too much before starting my blog and kinda wish I had thought about it more, like should I have used my name and my husbands name? I only started my blog as a personal endeavour for memories and to keep my family and friends updated and it has certainly gotten bigger than I thought it would. I know for sure I do not want to become a blogger who writes reviews about products even if I don’t like them just because I was given it for free. I like to make my own opinions about things and I would never accept an invitation to something if it was stated I must write a post about it afterwards. It’s my blog and I should be able to make it how I want it! I also am a little bit recluse and don’t like to go out too much, so I often turn down some invitations, especially if they are too much in the public eye.
So I totally understand your reasons behind using a moniker. Good for you for writing this post!
sometimes i wonder if we ever met. like bumping into each other without knowing who you really are. that would be a shame. i would like to hug you 🙂
Awww you’re really so sweet. Maybe one day….70 yr old me will give you a hug instead 😉
Kind people like you are the reason I find blogging so rewarding.
Lol! Must wait so long?
I’m glad you wrote about this. I’ve been reading your blog now for about two and a half years, since I started my blog. I had a really hard time deciding if I should write under my real name or not. In fact, I went so far as to register my domain under my own name. I don’t know what I was thinking. I read somewhere that you are what you write. I’m not so certain about that.
Or maybe it said something like you are your own label. I don’t remember exactly. I do know that having my name on my blog, first and last, took a bit of courage. I don’t know if it was the right answer or not.
I like to think we do the best with the knowledge and understand that we have.
I agree with your last commentator, that sometimes at work, in real life, people come up and say, I read this or that. In that way, you sort of realize how far reaching this web is. I mean, if you hear this feedback in person from one or two people, you start wondering how many people that are on the web read your words.
Then comes question of why we write. I agree with you completely that we write because it is part of who we are. When I think about your reasons for not sharing your name, of course, I wholeheartedly support you. It saddens me to hear that you have received negative comments, so maybe that’s better that the reader doesn’t know who you are.
I think for the most part, however, that people are genuinely good and kind and want to help. I find that to be true.
I do hope one day though to know who you are. But it doesn’t matter. I respect your decision. I think it would open a lot of doors for you. Now, that is being contradictory. Sorry about that.
Finally, about using your own name, at times, I wish I wrote under a pseudoname just to get random thoughts out there without the risk of feeeling judged.
My best to you.
I find that 99% of the time I only get very warm responses like yours….thank you so much. It was only those few times when I got those scary intimidating responses. I just immediately deleted the comment and didn’t want to see it anymore…it sure scared me….thinking back, what they did was criminal and I could have made a report but I just don’t want to dredge it up. Lets take it as a one off thing and that the person didn’t really know what they were doing and just expressing their conservative views too strongly?
Thanks so much for your support Julie 🙂 I really really appreciate it.
I love this blog post of yours, and just thought I should stop by to lend you some support! It really is no big deal that you choose not to reveal your identity, in fact, I find this act of yours really admirable, as it shows that you favour authentic writing more than recognition, given that your blog is actually quite a popular one. (I hope I do make sense here) And, I totally agree with the above reasons that you gave!
Just so you know, from the way you write in your blog, I can imagine your kind personality! I can feel that you are a really kind person with a big heart. I actually look up to you, even though we do not know each other at all, I love your train of thoughts, and of course, I love how you are able to express yourself so well.
I always love reading your space here. Thank you for always sharing great stuffs with us readers! I especially love your blog posts on your little discoveries in Singapore, because it just shows that this tiny island is not that boring afterall! 🙂
A fan of yours:)
Thank you so much. Reading this at night (insomnia) and your comments are so encouraging and sweet. It really means a lot to have someone understand and validate my reasons. Often I feel quite unsure myself and oddly guilty about it.
I enjoy your blog very much too 🙂
Thank you again…….kind words like yours keep me wanting to go on.
I used to write under a nickname, back when people were still highly suspicious of the Internet and putting a photo online meant you might get found by crazy people.
Then I began to write under my real name and found that it actually worked better for me.
For one, publicly owning my work is important to me – not only can I use it for my portfolio as you’ve mentioned, having it under my own name and having people know who I am changed things for me. I guess in the way that writing under a moniker helps you connect with people, having people be able to put a face and a name to me helps me establish relationships that have often been incredibly rewarding. (When I went to DC I ended up staying with a friend who I’d met on Twitter!)
Also, with the topics that I blog about, I find that writing under my own name lends it a lot more credibility and although people do sometimes still accuse me of being a “keyboard warrior” they definitely do it a lot less than if I were writing anonymously.
At the end of the day, though, it is a very personal decision to make and everyone has different reasons!
Thanks so much for adding to the discussion Kirsten 🙂 I always value your opinions as I’m a big fan of your writing and all the great social causes you pursue – you have opened my eyes to many issues as well. I consider what you do journalism, so yeah, it’s better to have your face and name tied to your articles (speaking as a reader of your work).
Had no idea that you wrote under a nickname previously.
It was a very very long time ago, when I was a teenager. And at that time everyone was so new to the Internet and blogging that we all thought putting up your full name or showing people your photo would lead to a serial killer showing up at your door. Hah!
I recall the very first time we came across the internet in the office, my friend decided to search for playboy (as a test) and the site was blocked. I still had no clear concept of it and could have never imagined how it would take off or how it would be so big a part of my life 😉
A lovely post and I personally think that your warm, kind personality still comes through in all of your posts. I always enjoy reading your blog as I know that what you write about are your own views of a place etc., I sometimes wonder if our paths have ever crossed, especially when you write about places close to me.
When I started my blog I didn’t really think about whether I should write under my name or not, really because I never imagined I’d get many people wanting to read it. I guess though because I am identifiable through it I am sometimes a bit more cautious about what I write or how I word something. All I decided intially was not to include photos of myself (there are about three in total I think), but this was mainly because I’m not mad about photos of me and secondly not to name anybody in it. Unless they wrote a blog and would be OK with me putting a link through to their blog as a result.
Just a little advice here – There is no real anonymity on the Internet. A determined person, e.g. state, can unveil the identity with some work. Further, many gadgets today, including cameras, include information such as time and (GPS) location. It takes great effort to remain anonymous!
Yours is a fine blog. Keep writing!
yeah that is true….unfortunately
Thanks so much for the affirmation…keeps me going 🙂
Coming from someone who knows your true identity, people are going to love you and your blog just as much whether you do reveal yourself or not 🙂
Thanks sweetie 🙂
So long as your writings are real, it doesn’t matter if you’re not using your real name. I don’t need to know who you are to enjoy your blog 🙂
Thanks a million mf. That really means a lot to me. 🙂
There are pros and cons of revealing your ID. If you are exposed you got to be very careful. Can get sued. That’s what happened to TRE when one of the writers decided to expose himself. He was held responsible for a comment posted by a reader. Yawning bread is another example.
I know how it is to in the open. But then the satisfaction is great if you just be more careful cuz I can talk openly about my work or frens. If I’m not in the open I just can’t talk openly about things I do everyday. To be open lends more credibility. For example if you just meet someone. That person wants to know about you. Instead if talking so much to him I’ll tell him to read my blog. My blog reveals everything about myself. It’s all there.
Thanks for sharing Gintai. I may not always comment..but I read your articles 🙂 Your writing is very engaging.
Thks. You are always welcome.
I feel exactly the same way as you, bookjunkie, and that’s why i also started writing using a moniker. Anyway, you might have already read this, but Daniel Pink’s book on drive and motivation describes how external incentives i.e. money, can dampen creativity and intrinsic interest. Am working my way through the book now.
I need to read that book. Thanks for the recommendation.
Glad to know there’s someone else out there who feels the same way. So glad you popped by 🙂