Using a pen name (also known as a pseudonym, literary double, or nom de plume) is a writing tradition that is both old and widespread. Many of the classic authors we are familiar with wrote and published using a pen name—Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) being one characteristic example.
The reasons behind using a pen name can vary. Sometimes, one’s real name might be considered too long or too difficult to pronounce. “Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum” would’ve been a challenge for a publisher (and a nightmare for a cover designer), so “Ayn Rand” was preferred.
Moreover, some famous female authors have opted for a pen name to hide their gender, in order to be taken more seriously. Examples include George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), Currer and Ellis Bell (Charlotte and Emily Brontë), and James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Bradley Sheldon).
Using a pen name can have some important benefits regarding marketing and publishing. Plus, using a pen name can help your writing—for reasons you might not readily appreciate, as I’ll explain later in the post.
However, here’s a crucial question: Can using a pen name also hurt your writing?Continue reading
I’ve been in so many rooms of writers, editors, and journalists who roll their eyes at the mention of search engine optimization (SEO). As a lot, we tend to be appalled that we must deign to taint our creations with keywords to appease the “Almighty Algorithm.”
We seem to believe there’s good writing … and then there’s SEO writing. That’s probably because most advice on writing for SEO is about numbers and algorithms. It makes you assume search engines only like boring, robotic, and even awkward writing. That’s not true (anymore).
Good writers should love SEO. Not just out of obligation, but because it helps you make better content—and it’s not as complicated as it seems.Continue reading
There’s nothing quite like traveling. Everyone loves warmer climates, exciting new adventures, and experiences abroad. Right?
Well, I do. Obviously, I can’t vouch for everyone, but I’m sure the vast majority out there would tend to agree with me. Strawberry daiquiris and ice-cream sundaes all around! What’s not to like?
But, (cough), excuse me just one second. Can I have all writers’ attention for a moment, please?
I hate to be the one to interrupt a snappy glass of red and platter of sushi. Where are my manners? But I’ve gotta put this out there before you get a little dizzy from the red stuff:
Traveling can be a lot more than just enjoying the luxury of eating saffron scallops at a four-star restaurant in Paris, or stuffing your face with toasted marshmallows around a campfire in Miyajima. For writers, there’s so much more to it than that.
As a writer, traveling has been a great opportunity to come up with something fresh for blogs, websites, or publications I’ve submitted articles to.
When you travel, you can take stacks of inspiration and creativity from your travels for your next writing project.
You should write about it, in fact.Continue reading
Developing a skill invariably requires learning from others with more experience. Writing is no exception. Improving as a writer involves reading others’ work and—at least at first—emulating it. Put simply, emulating other authors helps you learn what works and what doesn’t.
“Hey, hang on,” you might say indignantly, “are you asking me to copy other writers?”
I know why you may feel that way. Few things are more upsetting to a writer than to be accused of plagiarism. Judging by discussions I’ve had with fellow authors, it probably hurts less to have your own work plagiarized than to be wrongfully accused of plagiarism yourself. So, why am I suggesting that you become a better writer by emulating others?
And so, here comes a giant flashing red light..
Plagiarism, imitation, and emulation are three entirely different concepts. Their meaning, motivation, and results have nothing to do with one another. Whereas one can lead you into muddy waters, both legally and ethically, another can make the difference between a competent author and a great author.Continue reading