Pen name anyone?

One thing that writers tend to think about is a pen name. I saw a special about Beyonce Knowles on television the other day and heard about her “other self”, Sasha Fierce. When I first heard of it, I thought it was silly and strange. Why would a celebrity choose another name for a performance? Does Beyonce have a split personality? Self-esteem issues? Could be. Or she could be doing what some writers have done in the past.

Many writers have pen names. Great writers such as Samuel Clemens (AKA Mark Twain), the Bronte sisters, and Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel) all adopted pen names.

What is it about a pen name? Does it bring out a new personality? Does the person feel more confident about writing? Maybe it was because of the time period.

The Bronte sisters may have chosen pen names because they couldn’t be published under their own names as they were women. Like some female soldiers took on men’s identities to fight in battle, the Bronte sisters may have chosen pen names for the same reason. Except the battle is in the world of writing and publishing.

Whatever the reason, some writers have elected to write under made up names. Stephen King writes under the name Richard Bachman. Maybe writers choose a pen name because they change genres. Or due to contractual obligations are limited in how many books they can publish per year.

I thought it was so interesting that a singer would choose a pseudonym. Sasha Fierce apparently is intense and exciting while Beyonce is calm and humble during interviews. Maybe the appeal to her is that she can do things as Sasha Fierce that she doesn’t feel she can do as herself. I can understand that as a writer. Having another name to use without your past history attached to it? Sounds like freedom.

So Freshman Writers, I’m taking a poll. Would you use a pen name? Why or why not?