The separation of church and state.

No, not the religious versus political debate. It is more personal than that, unless you are a minister running for office, then carry on with your mission. I am talking about separating two lives and why it can be important even when they occupy the same piece of flesh.

As a writer, I want my name in glowing letters. I want people interested in the stories I write and the value each has to offer.

As a husband and father, I want my children free of the burden that may carry.

I am prepared to carry the burden myself (I think I am anyway), but I am not prepared to foist that onto my wife and kids.

It became very clear, I needed to use a pen name to allow my family the one step distance from my work. My work may one day be viewed as sacrilege of one sort or the other. There may even be book burnings involved (I’ve heard that is great for sales). I am ready to shoulder that burden. My children hold different views than I do on many subjects and I don’t want them painted with the same brush, if I can help it. Side note, I am not attempting to be disrespectful of anyone. My characters tend to do what they will once created and act according to their natures.

The second reason I chose to do a pen name is for a better work life balance. I setup separate accounts for my pen name and I am going to show you how I did it. It may not be perfect but it works for me.

Using two browsers: I use two different browsers for my accounts online. One is for my pen name and the other is for my given name. I filled one with my personal accounts and websites, the other is filled with my working accounts. This way, when I open a browser, I know I am there to work free of alerts from my personal accounts bleeding over into the short time I have to work. I have found as a side effect I naturally go to the one I secretly want to do at that time without making the conscious decision to do so. It makes a great way to use my time wisely and still be there for game nights with the family.

Using two phones: I have done a similar technique with an old phone I had laying around. I cleared it of all data and then only put the apps and accounts on the old one for my writing world. (I have found this is easier to do with an old android device than my old iPhone)

Creating a work life/family life harmony: This is the hardest step. Telling a young child no is nearly impossible. Especially, when they are just too damn cute. Just like a normal job, I created a schedule. If I shared it here people would be yelling and ranting that there is no way someone can do eighteen to twenty hours a day total and only sleep four. I have been doing it my entire life and it doesn’t look to change anytime soon. My father and my grandfather were also blessed with these extra hours of productivity. Find what works for you. Don’t worry about the number of hours others put into their writing life.

Creating a goal for each day: I create goals for every day. Whether that is word count or chapters to read.

Giving versus receiving: Just as you hear the jangling pan passed at church full of money, it is better to give than receive. Do this. In every aspect of your life. Be a giver online, spend time interacting with your selected audience. Get to know the peers in your field. Interact with them.

Remember to cultivate your brand: treat people fairly, ignore the trolls, and treat negative remarks as you would a science experiment. Test their validity instead of simply dismissing it altogether. Are your characters flat, is your plot so filled with holes that you lose your readers? They will let you know. I have never found a reading crowd unable to point out problems.

Treat everyone with a bit of respect: unless they prove themselves to be a troll, be nice, listen to what they are really saying, respond when you can, and be genuine. This can be shortened to the Wil Wheaton quote “Don’t be a dick!” but I have seen too many otherwise wonderful people commit the crime of faking it. Readers will know. When you fake your loves and hates, or your fears and emotions, the only person fooled for long is you. Even with a dual identity you can still be yourself.


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