As a writer, this is a question I use to struggle with from time to time.
The inner turmoil use to set in whenever I was writing a piece that would stir the healthy balanced societal pot. A piece that causes questions, widens eyes and drops jaws. The gritty, the witty, the ugly. I would always find myself questioning whether going incognito would better serve my reputation.
After years of writing pieces covering female masturbation, my tour of a town’s strip club and my personal stories which involve embarrassing moments and life lessons, I have come to terms with my name printed on the top of articles. I have come to terms that people will read my pieces and think a certain way and I have come to terms that not everyone will like my work and the stories I dabble in.
I have overcome this, but many people have not. Many writers still face the dilemma of being anonymous or known when they are creating a story that may cross a line or raise a few eyebrows.
For those people, these are some of the things to consider whenever you are questioning whether to be anonymous or known.
- What does the story mean to you?
Whenever I write a story, I usually get pretty invested. I love watching my story develop and go from a pitch to paper. Others, however, may not see it that way. Some people might write a piece simply because they want to jot down thoughts or share a story for reader’s enjoyment.
If you fall into that category, being unknown isn’t the worst thing because this story is simply a way to express yourself. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum and have worked long hours developing a story that you invested your time, ideas and creativity into, being known might be more important than you think. This is your art and others should know that.
- Do you plan to write more stories that will follow in suit with this style?
If this is a one-off story that you undertook because your editor needed someone to write it or you wanted to go outside of your comfort zone, I say it’s okay to remain anonymous.
If you plan on writing similar stories or enjoyed the piece more than you thought, being anonymous might not help you in the long run. If you like telling stories that involve edgy topics, you will always battle with the thought of staying an anonymous writer. In time, however, you will build a following that will appreciate your style, so you might as well own your shit now.
- How much do you truly care about what others think?
In the end, this the most important question of all. How much do you truly care about what others think of your words? Will this impact you in the future or are you overthinking it? Will you hurt some feelings or will this not effect the people who read it at all? Will it cause a legal issue as far as mentioning names and places? Or, at the end of the day, does having people read this make you extremely uncomfortable?
These are the questions you need to consider when deciding whether or not to put your name on an article. Every person is different and I would rather see more people opt for going anonymous than to never share their ideas and experiences in the first place.
I Gotta Question is a bi-weekly column that answers all of your professional, financial and general adulthood questions. Every other week, I pick a query from readers who have submitted questions and I answer them. If I don’t know the answer from personal experience, I’ll find someone who does.