Is Anonymous Writing Better?

For the past week or so, I had closed off my blog from the public. I hesitated whether or not to talk to you guys about why I did so, but I guess I need to, at least for those who had requested access.

Here goes.

Usually, one of the best things about having published your written work someplace with a larger audience is the feedback you get from readers who have found your writing relevant, touching, or helpful in some way. Am I right? I used to write only for self-expression, and for the most part I still do. But over the years, upon receiving messages from readers who have connected with what I’ve written and have somehow been helped by it, I have developed a new view of what writing is and what it could be as an art form. I have recognized its larger significance and potential to touch other people’s lives, help them feel less alone, or even inspire them to write their own stories and speak up about things that they think should matter.

For example, in this blog I write about personal musings, but I also use it as a platform to spread awareness of mental health issues, campaign for the arts, challenge societal norms which I think are unfair or ill-informed, and discuss writing with fellow writers. These are the things that matter to me, and it is important to me that I get involved in the conversation about them.

Now, to connect the reason for my recent hiatus from writing and from even just showing my writing—

One of my articles recently got published in a national newspaper. The article was about singlehood and the stigma around it, especially for women. In the article, I mentioned that I’ve been single my entire life, and I questioned the need of society to demand an explanation for that.

After that piece’s publication, I went on with life as usual. I had expressed what I wanted to say about the issue, and that was it. I did fear that I might regret being so open about my relationship status, given the article had a byline with my actual name on it and all that. But I also had to remember that fear has no place in authentic writing. If you want to write, you have to have courage.

Soon after that article was published, there were readers who connected with me in positive ways, which I truly appreciated. However, in the aftermath there was also feedback that felt disturbing to me. Let’s just put it this way: there have been inappropriate advances, from attached men. I hope you get what I mean by this, because I don’t want to be too explicit here. Suffice it to say that I felt almost like prey that was being hunted down. And for what? For writing about my singlehood? What of that, then? In writing that article, did I advertise myself as a carcass on the desert, and now I’m left to fend off the vultures that descend?

If this is the kind of world that meets writers and other artists who put their hearts out there, is it fair to ask them to continue to offer their vulnerabilities for public consumption? Sure, not all the world is exploitative or dangerous, but a couple of bad apples in there is sometimes enough to make the writer think twice about the risk she’s placing herself in when she dares to write truthfully. I hate that I now get the sense that I need to hide away again, at a point in my writing when I’ve just started to open up more, to trust the world with my vulnerabilities in the hopes that expressing them might help someone else.

By now, you may get the sense that I might be a little bit angry. Am I angry? Maybe I am. My writing is like a person to me, a trusted friend that has always saved me. Now, with the paranoia I’ve had to contend with after that article’s publication, I couldn’t help but feel like that trusted friend has betrayed me.

“All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn’t your pet — it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.” ~ Joss Whedon

Should I have just written anonymously, then, than hazard myself with a byline I can’t unhinge myself from? I keep thinking, If I really wanted to write, I should’ve just stuck to writing anonymously, in this blog and anywhere else. Anonymous is safer, you know. And maybe I will feel freer too, writing anonymously. Then I wouldn’t have to mind people in my personal or professional life misinterpreting what I write or judging me because of it.

I’m still feeling really conflicted about this. I want to have courage for the sake of my writing, because I cannot separate it from who I am. I also cannot write pretentiously just so I could protect myself from risk, because writing is sacred to me and I consider pretentious writing a sacrilege.

I am still debating with myself how to go about this.

But if you’re reading this post, it means I refuse to be silenced. It means I’m continuing to have courage. ♣

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” ~ Elie Wiesel

This entry is part of my undertaking a 30-day challenge Matt Cutts talked about at TED2011. The premise is to “think about something you’ve always wanted to add to your life and try it for the next 30 days.” I am challenging myself to post one blog entry a day for 30 consecutive days. [I’ve given up on the ‘consecutive’ part, but I intend to finish the 30 days!]

Today is Day 26.

About the Author •


58 thoughts on “Is Anonymous Writing Better?

  1. Well done my friend, it isn’t an easy journey to stand in your truth, but by writing your blog, and now this, it is exactly what you have done. I admire your courage and I do think that if you get that type of feedback and begin to block them after the first ‘nice’ reply or two, then they have created that for themselves and will soon get sick of the silence and move on to find the ‘why’ they did this for themselves.
    Take a bow, that heart has a shield much greater than the fear that they try to bring ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I am inspired by your courage! My journey into writing publicly began less than a year ago. So much of your “About” is familiar and this post has so many thoughts that I’ve worried about and considered as I put myself out there publicly through my blog and hopefully through publication. Your experience is truly frightening and I’d understand if you chose to write anonymously. I’ve read, somewhere along the way, that some authors do write with a blend of their real name and a pen name. Thank you for sharing your experience; it is an important reminder for me! It is resonating with me very closely today and no doubt with stay with me as I continue my healing through writing exploration.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi, Bonnie, thanks so much for the visit and for sharing your thoughts on this! Your comment exemplifies the thing about writing helping us feel less alone in our struggles, so thank you for letting me know I’m not alone in having the worries I expressed. I think I’ve always worried about these things, but it has been magnified more by recent events. Sometimes I feel like it’s unfair that a writer would have to feel threatened because of the things she wrote, when she only intended to be open about her truth and about issues that need to be discussed.

      I wish you the courage and wisdom to do what’s best for your writing as well. All the best! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have just started writing a few months and like you, it has been more about self expressing than public recognition. I have had more people than I can count tell me how much courage I have sharing such deeply personal things and I appreciate but at the time it leaves me feeling anxious and vulnerable because I also feel I am being judged ( by the people who knew me personally in the past) I have been asked by a few publications if I would like to submit my work and that makes my anxiety skyrocket 1. I don’t have the time 2. I don’t know if could handle the rejection of something I wrote that was so deep and personal and 3. If it was accepted, the potential negative feedback, because people judge what they don’t understand. I can’t tell you what to do except post on whatever medium you feel comfortable with. If you want to post publicly, do it! If not, you have to think of your own emotional safety and post anonymously. I liked this post and wish you the best of luck. I look forward to reading ore your your blog

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally get the anxiety and vulnerability you feel from writing about things that “cut close to the bone”, so to speak. I think the fact that you’re being asked to submit your work is indication that people could sense the authenticity in your writing, and that’s what readers look for and value in a piece of writing.

      As your audience broadens, so will the variety of opinion and feedback on your work. You’re right, some people will just not “get” it. Such is another demand for the writer, to develop a thicker hide and learn to turn even negative feedback into something constructive. I’ve received criticisms on my writing and the ideas I’ve expressed before, and they hurt because that’s my heart on paper, right there. But to know that beyond those criticisms or negative feedback, there are others who do get it and feel bettered in some way through what I shared, that more than makes up for the pain of rejection by some.

      Wish you all the best for your own writing journey. Thank you for dropping by, and for sharing your thoughts. I’ll keep what you said in mind. I’ll still aim to speak my truth through my writing, but for my own emotional safety (love that term, by the way), I’ll be more careful about the kinds of things I reveal about myself especially when my name is on the byline.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for following my blog which brought me to yours! I can’t wait to read more. This post alone said some magical words that I felt connection with! Thanks for sharing your writing!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry you had to see the dark side of writing. CongratZ on your publication, though. Even though my blog is honest, I do not like to mix it with “real life”. For now at least. Hope you get your piece of mind back.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Firstly, I am so sorry that you had a terrible experience with those said individuals who made unwanted and inappropriate advances. I also wanted to thank you for writing this article. As a female blogger, I often worry that I am too open. I value my transparency as it is a trait I didn’t always have. But the downfall of it, is that I’m opening my life to others I don’t know…to their opinions…to their eyes. And while I’ve never had an experience just like yours I did have an experience that made me really uncomfortable. I had decided to document my weight Loss Journey on YouTube. I my was a really a journal for myself but I would make two videos daily. One before the workout. And one after. And I got this guy you started commenting. At first he’s like, Oh great job. Keep the videos coming m such an inspiration. But that turned into you look so beautiful. In which I did not reply. And then it turned into. Take a video of you actually doing the workout. Which I didn’t reply. Which then turned into, do you have a snap chat. I felt so creeped out that I stopped making videos all together. I got nervous as some of my past videos have my daughter on them. It was a mess. It’s been about a month and I still won’t make a video. Suddenly I hesistate every time I get ready to film, of some weirdo is going to be watching or what will they say.

    None the less, thank you for being courageous and continuing to write. And thank you for writing this posts. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, thank you so much for sharing your story. I once read someone refer to the YouTube comments section as “the gutter of the internet world,” and I’m beginning to believe it. I mean, sure, there are amusing thoughts on there, but many are either inappropriate or downright creepy, as you shared. What you narrated perfectly demonstrates the progression of how these inappropriate advances happen, and it’s not talked about enough so some people think it’s okay to keep allowing those things to happen. I say it’s NOT okay that those who just truly care to get their content out end up getting harassed into hiding and eventually stopping from doing things that matter to them.


  7. Writing anonymously is exactly that. This piece resonated with me as well. A part of my project on my site has been about being brave. I admit that I am still a bit chicken. I have shared some things, but not yet shared others that are either too bizarre or too difficult to explain. I will, though. That is my promise to myself; my journey. From what I have seen of your blog so far is that you have excellent things to say and share. Find a way to do so – however that may happen. ~ Linda

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I have shared some things, but not yet shared others that are either too bizarre or too difficult to explain.” — My own story, too, exactly. I admire your courage and resolve to tackle and share those things! I don’t know if I would have the same courage you do (I think I’m being more chicken than you, hehe), but I hope to.

      Thanks for dropping by, Linda! I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on this. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are most welcome. As for courage, I’m not sure I have as much as you think. I’ve been lucky in a sense. With a few exceptions, I haven’t received too many comments, but the comments I have received have been kind. I’ve had a few oddities, but nothing uncomfortable. I think you write very well, and would hate to have your kind, intelligent and thoughtful musings tucked away where no one could see them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s the thing that pushed me to write this piece–some approaches went beyond the comments section, and that’s what freaked me out. I had to have courage to write this piece also, because keeping silent will not do me good. Thanks to the support of this community, I’m feeling a little more courageous.

        Thank you so much for your kind words about my writing! It means a lot to me. ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Very interesting article, which I enjoyed reading! I understand exactly where you are coming from, as I have only recently began to share my own thoughts and words with the world.

    For me, my written work is not only just empowering for me, but I hope they can also have the same effect on others who read it. It has taken 30 years and a lot of courage for me to share my work with othersI would like to think that what I write, gives a voice to the one’s that can’t speak, and helps them to connect with someone to realise that they are not on their own.

    Being able to write, and convey your thoughts or messages so others can understand, is not a skill or talent that everyone possesses. And there will always be ‘critics’, regardless!

    So as far as I am concerned, be proud of what you are able to achieve with your mind and don’t be afraid of giving it a forum. Keep doing what you’re doing, because for every ‘one’ that doesn’t like it, there will be a lot more, that do.

    I now make a point of putting my full name on everything I write, rather than use a pseudonym, because after all the words came from ‘me’, and not some unknown person.

    Sharon Carter-Wray 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a tough question. I don’t agree with writing anonymously; however, I understand the need to protect your sense of self and feelings. With that said, I suppose you should do whatever your heart tells you, which I’m assuming is to continue to write under your own name.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for dropping by to read and share your insights on this. For this blog, I go by a pseudonym. For print publications, yeah I think I’ll continue writing under my own name, although I’m more careful now with the info I include in those pieces.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent post. Congratulations on being published! And I’m glad that a few rotten apples didn’t silence you. Thanks so much for reading and liking my blog as well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much! Yes, sometimes the prospect of rotten apples scares me still, but I won’t allow that fear to silence me. Thanks for your encouragement.

      Looking forward to reading more of your writing. 🙂


  11. Thanks for following my blog. I think I came across your blog and this entry in particular at just the right time. I’m just finishing reading 50 Shades of Grey and planned to write an opinion entry on it and include my experience/views on both reading and writing erotic literature. I don’t have a huge following on my blog but I realize that writing this type of entry could very well bring about unwelcome attention. While I applaud you for not staying anonymous in your writing, I will take your experience as a word of caution and choose not write in such vivid descriptions my thoughts on the book/category of literature.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Tracy! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your own thoughts on this! Hmm, I think it’s good that you’ve been encouraged to think ahead about the possible feedback to your entry. Do what you think is best for your own peace of mind and safety. I do hope you weren’t discouraged from writing at all, though! Sometimes though it’s risky, we got to have courage to get the truth out. I guess it’s all about finding that balance, that midpoint of courage between cowardice and recklessness.


  12. “But I also had to remember that fear has no place in authentic writing. If you want to write, you have to have courage.” Keep going without fear. This has motivated me to be more open. Today it seems that we have to just mentally filter out these people to remain happy and in our purpose. I truly hope you keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! I really appreciate them. Reading feedback like yours are among the reasons I continue to have courage to write out what I think and feel. So glad to know you’ve been motivated to be more open. Let’s keep writing! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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