What’s in a Name? Choosing a Pen Name

In the retired, predictable world that is Forestwood by the Sea, serious changes are afoot.

I’ve been lucky enough to score a part-time job writing for a lifestyle magazine. Yay for me. However, after the initial excitement settled, the ramifications of taking on this role had me worried. Journalists cop a bit of flack in today’s litigious world, and are often sued personally for what they write. What would be the implications of my name being in print, for both me and my family?

Might my privacy be violated by who knows what kind of nutters out there in a, ‘Covid-angry,’ world?

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Photo by Markus Winkler on

I decided I might just need to preserve my anonymity by writing under a pseudonym or pen name. But what name should I choose? Something fanciful, creative or something slightly ‘crae crae?

Choosing a Pseudonym

‘How would I even go about choosing a Pen Name? Is there criteria to be followed? A checklist or protocol in selecting such a name?

Just like choosing a baby’s name or the name of a new pet, I wanted to get it right! This meant I had to consider things like the genre and demographic I was writing for, whether the name had been used before in journalistic circles or whether it had any bad context or connections.

I sure as eggs didn’t want to find out the pen name I had carefully chosen happened to be the same as a serial killer or some onerous individual from days gone by.

I narrowed down a short list of names dredged from the depths of my imaginations, none of which my own family liked. Some initiated a variety of belly wrenching, hilarious comments. Hmm. [They DO love me, but have a quirky sense of humour.] But perhaps I wasn’t the best person to choose the name?

I then enlisted the help of an online pen name generator. Did you realise there was such a thing? This online marvel of suggestions, offered up some unusual name combinations, some of which I’ve starred* below, but I still remained sceptical of those choices.

Given the blogging community is so highly informed, intelligent and the reason my confidence had grown to the point that I even contemplated this job, I thought it prudent to seek their, [read: your] opinion on a potential pseudonym, as readers of Something to Ponder About.

Can You Help?

Following is a poll of some shortlisted preferences. Which one do you think sounds best?

Perhaps you have a suggestion of your own? Let me know in the comments.

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157 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? Choosing a Pen Name”

  1. I voted for Marta Birch. Emily Larsen sounds elegant but the former sounds very poetic and evokes images of a diligent poet at work in the 18th century in the midst of a lush green rainforest, listening to the songs of birds, adopting nature as her muse…. Yeah, you get the idea! Sounds like the name of a popular romantic poet.

    I had no idea that so much of work goes into selecting a pen name 😅I just use my nick name and one of the 3 names given to me at birth and put that to use in the very first book I published. But after reading your post, I realise that it’s important to have a pen name that makes you sound classy and… reliable.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You don’t have to go to the lengths some of us go to, but I thought it a fun challenge to find one. I really like your description of Marta Birch. It is highly likely that I will chose this one or something like this.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One thing I’ve noticed in pen name is that: a pen name gives an individual the needed anonymity , at times in countries where writers aren’t that safe due to some things, a pen name usually protects them.

    Again, I think some uses pen name to cover up themselves when they don’t want to be judged or condemn, e.g those who write erotic stories and all, I remember I onces used a pen name in doing such.


  3. What pen name, if any, did you finally selected since I just saw this; i.e., late?

    Thanks for sharing the pen name generator; didn’t know that it existed. Not surprised though – with technology everything is out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am unsure if I should reveal it here as I would like to keep my blogging life separate from that life, and after a bit of feedback I am thinking of changing it to a gender non specific name.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Names are very subjective but it was interesting to do this exercise nonetheless. Brian from the Equinoxio blog thought I sounded like an Astrid – so he calls me that now. Lol. Did you ever think you would use a pen name?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi – I wish I was writing under a pen name right now! lol
        I really prefer that but I have gotten used to being our there with my name and really have no reason to use a pen name – but if writing for a magazine like you are I think it is a great idea

        Liked by 1 person

          1. yes, and just privacy – and actually I do not like being “out there” because I have that private side – like seriously it is not me to be so online like I am with my blog – but you know Amanda, I am so happy about it now – very grateful how it unfolded and feel it is a gift from God the way it unfolded (more on this perhaps another time)

            Liked by 1 person

      1. yes – good that you can change if needed –
        and just make sure you pick something that is beautiful (like you are, inside and out) – lek Amanda is – and like Astrid feels – because now that I think about the first two names did not appeal because they did not align with that. (and that might have been cheesy but had to say it – )

        Liked by 1 person

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