The thing that keeps me writing, is that I feel I am on a constant treasure hunt. I either am learning, learning about the world around me, or learning more about myself. In and with that level of learning, you also get to read people. You get to know what the people in your inner circle like and don’t like. Even with learning your audience, you also realize what people expect you to write.
This is a dangerous lull to get into as a writer. Don’t rest on the laurels of what you believe people expect you to write. You will never grow, you will never be challenged, and it may just drive you mad.
How does a pen name fit in with this? Well, it is a way to explore without everyone (or anyone) knowing what you are up to. A pen name allows you to spy on the world, without ever the world around you knowing. Or ever knowing.
If you have a topic or subject matter that you think maybe risque? Don’t think to throw it away! At least not altogether. One of the ways to facilitate writing for it is to try writing behind a pen name. There is a freedom in this type of anonymity: you get to create as you see fit without the hindrance of the opinions of other people.
You get to dive deep into your subject matter, expound on things you had only whispered about or written in diaries. Your pen name is you in a superhero form. That’s how I look at the names I write under aside from my own. It’s a way that I get to explore, flip, twist and relax as I write.
A pen name gives me space to exhale deeply; especially in uncharted waters (aka genres that I normally don’t write in). It is not something mandatory every writer has or will ever use. But it’s a fail safe: in case of emergency break glass.
As a writer, you shouldn’t short change yourself! Use all resources at your disposal. That includes the ones you have to make for yourself. You’ll be surprised how far you can go–once you let yourself go.