It is precisely twenty-three days since I started The Bipolar Writer blog in September 2017. I can’t wait to finally reach that milestone.
Today I want to talk about something I have found very useful– writing under my pseudonym James Edgar Skye (which is my pen name but not my actual real name.) While I have talked about my real name in blog posts before I generally write under my pen name. In the following blog post, I will talk about my thoughts on why writing anonymously or with a pen name/pseudonym has helped me open up about my mental illness.
Why James Edgar Skye was a Game Changer
I was looking through so many blogs over the weekend, and I noticed that when it comes to some bloggers, there is a hesitation to share the experience part of mental illness within the confines of their blog when they use their real name. This is not true for every blog, but there is out enough there that I realized that writing under my pen name changed the game for writing my blog. Part of the reason comes from the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
It made me think of something my poetry instructor told me recently, “You tend to work better when you are outside yourself and writing about mental illness. Writing a character helps you come to grips with your writing and your illness.”
I am not sure how many times I have talked about this, but The Bipolar Writer blog was not my first attempt at writing a blog. The success that I have had was almost non-existent in my first two blog attempts, once in 2010 and again in 2014. It is true I took a class last year that helped me grow my brand and my blog which contributes to some of the success that I have had here on my blog.
The truth behind the success of my blog is much broader than that, and I owe a lot of that success to writing under a pen name versus writing under my real name. It sounds crazy, but I found that in the past so much of my illness went untold because I worried about what people would think about me of when writing under my real name (the stigma of mental illness kept me from being me.)
I am long past caring if people hate what I write about, but within the community, there is still that fear of “what will the people that love me think if they see this?” This was a constant thought when I wrote my other two blogs, and after a few weeks I gave up. Lucky for me I stuck it out this time.
I envy the fantastic bloggers who use their real names because they can be true to themselves, but I have found the same level of success writing anonymously or with a pseudonym. Early on it helped me to take a step outside of all that I am and create a character– my pen name J.E. Skye. Unlike my fiction writing, everything I write here and in memoir is my story told from a real perspective that can be objective.
I don’t hold back, and I tell my daily life within the confines of this blog precisely as I have lived it.
For me it was essential to take a step back and say, “okay this is my story, but I can be objective if I tell it like a character in one of my novels.” It worked for me because it opened up my mental illness life to the world and I don’t mind the scrutinization as James. I can take the good and constructive critizism that comes with writing about mentla illness. I found what makes me successful. It may not work for everyone, but if right now you are struggling with the narrative take a step back. Create a character and see if that makes it easier.
It’s funny. I wrote a novel and a screenplay before starting this blog. I was already James Edgar Skye, but I found myself here on my blog. It gave me the courage to finally share my story, it launced my blog, and it gave me the courage to write my blog. Shifting my perspective changed my narrative. Don’t feel bad if you prefer to write anonymously. Never lose the fight to share your story because every story is different in this mental illness life.
Stay active in the fight my friends.
Always Keep Fighting (AKF)
James Edgar Skye
Please Help me Publish my Memoir
I am almost done editing my memoir “The Bipolar Writer,” and I have decided to go down the self-publishing route. If you can donate anything towards my goal, it would mean the world to me. I am still working towards enough to pay an artist for a good cover. Those that donate will get a special mention in my memoir on a page dedicated to those that made my memoir possible. Thank you in advance!