Why I Killed My Pen Name After 12 Months of Writing Online

This is something I never expected to write when I started.

Stephan Joppich
6 min readApr 2, 2022


Is this picture a metaphor for walking away from my pen name and embracing my real name? I don’t know, but I’ll take it! (Images by author)

Over the last twelve months, I published all of my content under the pen name Leo Sharp. Hundreds of blog posts, newsletters, and comments — all of these things carry the badge of my online persona.

I also went to great lengths to keep it that way. I had separate email addresses, purchased a website domain, and created social media accounts.

The result? Despite all the writing breadcrumbs I sprinkled over the internet, there’s no trace of my real name. Everything is neatly separated, like food bins at a buffet.

Until now.

From this day forward, I’ll be publishing under my real name: Stephan Joppich. You can’t imagine how weird it feels typing my name for the first time in a blog post. After all, it has never appeared on top of my content. I never even associated it with my creative work.

But I’d like to change that. And I’d like to explain why.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Why I Was Using a Pen Name

There are dozens of reasons why I chose a pen name. But these are the three that stood out to me the most. And they all have one thing in common.

Writing online is scary

If you decide to publish your thoughts, ideas, and opinions on the internet, you put your life on the line. You put them under the scrutiny of others. And if you happen to publish under your real name, these “others” are naturally your friends, family members, and colleagues.

I was terrified of that. What will they think of me? Will they laugh about me? Who am I to believe I can become a writer? And if there was one truth I knew about writing before I even started, it was this:

Caring too much about what others think paralyzes creativity.

It started as an experiment

When I uploaded my first articles, I was still ingrained into a master’s program in industrial product development. At this point, engineering had been all I had ever known: I had spent four years…



Stephan Joppich

Engineer turned philosophy student • I write about loneliness, books & minimalism • Get fortnightly food for thought → stephanjoppich.com/newsletter/