I majored in psychology in college and I want to write an advice column like yours. I love listening to people’s problems and offering them solutions. Can you tell me how you got started and give me some pointers, please? Are there any “do’s” and “don’ts” of which I should be aware? I thank you in advance for your career advice.
I thank you for your compliment. It is said that the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. To answer your question, I have always enjoyed reading “Dear Abby” columns and when I completed my master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT), I thought it might be fun to write a similar column to hers but with an MFT focus.
Upon graduation, I contacted the then editor of the Life section of The Epoch Times, Michael Courter, and proposed my idea. By lucky coincidence, he was a social worker as well as an editor and related that he had been wanting to write just such a column for some time, however, he simply didn’t have the time.
I started out writing a weekly column for the New York print edition of The Epoch Times which was entitled, “Between You and Me.” Some time later, the life section of the paper was excised and I was asked to remain a contributor to the paper as author of this blog. It was my pleasure to oblige. I greatly enjoy interacting with readers like you and assisting them to resolve life’s inevitable challenges.
As for do’s and don’ts, I suggest that you research the demographic of your prospective publication and keep your particular audience in mind when you write. Additionally, never give specific legal, medical, or psychological advice to readers as you can’t truly assess them or their specific needs from reading their letters. Refer them to appropriate professionals and always provide empathy and a word of encouragement when you can.
When you have solidified your idea, write up a proposal and pitch it to editors in your area. Include a few reader letters which your friends and family members can contribute. Include your respective responses to each one. Before you know it, your name will be in print. I wish you the very best of luck in your writing endeavors and I will be on the look-out for your byline!
All my best,