Picking Your Professional Name

Manuscript news: I’m gonna be honest. I have been a pretty lazy writer this week. I joked after NaNo that I was gonna take a week off. At least, at the time I thought it was a joke, but it has turned out to be more prophetic than I would like.

Truthfully, I was really worried this would happen. My hobbies tend to be cyclical, and after a period of hitting one hard I usually circle around to something else for a while. Writing was a hobby for such a long time, and I’m only just now trying to transition it into more of a second job. And if it were a job, I’d have called out a lot this week and on the cusp of getting fired.

Since NaNo has ended I’ve only added about 3000 words. It’s not writer’s block. I’m in the middle of a really good scene that I’m (for once) really excited to write. It’s just… burn out, maybe? I gave myself a goal of being done with the manuscript by the end of January, with a daily word count target of 1000-1200. I’m not hitting that, not even close. I don’t know what I need to do to get myself back in the groove, but I’ve got to figure it out soon, while the story still has the capability of engaging me.


The Weekly Struggle: My latest struggle (apart from the above) has revolved around my professional name. Or lack of one, really. When I decided to go on this journey, choosing a name to write under was something pretty far down on my priorities list, somewhere between writing my query letter and writing my actual novel. I knew I would use my real first name (Kerry, in case you forgot, pleased to meet you), but I had concerns about going all in with my legal last name as well. However, I didn’t want to wait until I made a potentially long-term decision like that to get started on my blogging, my twittering, and my connecting with fellow writers.

So I opted to simply use Just Another Struggling Writer as my public façade, or Kerry for short, and went about my business.

But, lately I’ve felt a little naked as just a first name.

I know it’s still pretty early to think about. Especially considering my current difficulties getting words on the page and the non-zero possibility that I could flame out now and never finish this (or any) manuscript, picking a professional name seems like pretty small peanuts.

A lovely follower on Twitter (Miss K) pointed out that it would be prudent to pick a name, so a website domain could be registered before it’s snapped up by someone else, and I think there’s wisdom to that (although I had always intended on using the JASW — what’s the word? Brand? That feels unearned at this point but I can’t think of any other way to describe it — as my public persona, but that’s a bridge for Future Kerry to cross).

My focus needs to be writing. Finishing a book. But, I still can’t help but wonder if I should be getting my name out there in the community.

Originally, when I first planned this post, I was going to ask for advice on how to pick what professional name to use. Legal name? Maiden name? Pen name, and if a pen name how do you choose? But the more I thought about it, the more I started wondering if my name is a cart rumbling down the road miles ahead of the horse.

For the record, I feel pretty settled on a pen name. It rhymes with my real, legal, difficult to spell and therefore frequently mispronounced last name. It also shares a common first letter, and since my actual signature is a scribble in which only the initials are somewhat legible, I wouldn’t have to change anything (now that really is putting the cart in front of the horse, but sue me, I have a lot of time to mull about these things at the day job).

Which means, if I have chosen what I want to go by, then why wait? Why not just go ahead and change all my screen names, and register the domain, and make a small announcement that Just Another Struggling Writer will henceforth be known as Kerry….

Honestly, I don’t know.

I had sort of envisioned always being Just Another Struggling Writer. A person other writers in the early stages of their careers could see and relate to. Someone who is going through what they are going through right now. I sort of feel by stepping away from that I’ll be abandoning a community I dreamed of building, before it even has a chance to lay a foundation.

Is it self-centered of me to still want that?


What I’m Reading This Week: Shadow of the Raven by Millie Thom. After Outlander, I thought I might like a Viking story, but with more fantasy elements (since Outlander was lacking in that area, for my taste). My search led me to this series. I’m literally only just getting started on it, but I’m looking forward to it.