I’m a fan of experimentation. I am a fan of writers finding their footing, however they can get it. This may mean you try more than one genre before you find a home. This may even mean that you have your wheelhouse genre, and a genre that you want to dabble in. With this dabbling as it were, you may feel the need to shift a little bit.
In that shifting, you may want to become someone else. This may be for professional reasons, or personal ones. The example I most often refer to is Anne Rice when she wrote The Sleeping Beauty trilogy. Her father, a devout Catholic, was still alive, and she didn’t him to judge her for the work. Or embarrass him. In writing under the name A.N. Roquelaire, she was able to write what she wanted, and preserve her perfessional integrity.
With Joanne K. Rowling, her publisher told her that in order to have more young men interested in Harry Potter she should change her name. So, JK Rowling she became and has stayed. The choice of a pen name is serious, dear ones. In the choosing of an alter ego, you are (in essence) becoming another person. You are writing as someone that is not totally you. That may be a little disarming. But it is up to you.
In choosing to write under a pen name, you are giving yourself a permission few people are granted. It is a power that few people get to possess and implement! As a writer, with a pen, name you can have your imagination broadened. You take the limits off what you consider your home genre to me. You can even bend genders (ie Mary Wollencraft Shelley and the Bronte Sisters).
Can you be a writer, and a successful writer, without a pen name? Of course you can! Not every writer even wants a pen name! But, its a tool. And every writer needs those. In having this as a tool, you can broaden your creative horizons. Every writer needs that.
Writing is a journey, and on the way to success and consistent footing, you are allowed to make adjustments. So if you are on your way to finding your footing and need another avenue for a way forward–consider becoming someone else. Maybe for a little while.
You won’t regret it.