Dear Abby

We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end, we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges are here to…

  • Ready to write? We’ll give you a new challenge each Monday. Publish a new post on your blog that interprets the challenge. Include a pingback and we’ll list your post below. Learn More

We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end, we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges are here to help you push your writing boundaries and explore new ideas, subjects, and writing styles.

To participate, tag your post with DPchallenge and include a link to this post, to generate a pingback and help others find the challenges. Please make sure your post has been specifically written in response to this challenge. We’ll highlight some of our favorites on Freshly Pressed on Friday, and in our monthly newsletter.

When we give advice, it’s because we care about the recipient. When we ask for advice, we seek knowledge from peers and mentors that we respect. When we receive it, well, there’s no guarantee that it’s good or welcome. We all have expertise to share, and our blogs act as an ideal forum for dishing out our hard-earned knowledge. 

We may be about to embark on a new adventure in our careers, and turn to a respected colleague for tips along the way. Or a sibling may be going through their first heartbreak, and come to us for encouragement. Or, of course, we may be targets of the classic unsolicited advice, in which our inner bliss is interrupted by random bits of how we could do XYZ better. Nevertheless, as community members and writers, as family members and friends, the giving and getting of advice is part and parcel of our lives.

Questions and Answers

According to the New Yorker, the first advice column dates back all the way to 1691. For more than 300 years, people have been writing to relative strangers to get impartial feedback on the trials and tribulations of their daily lives.

Fast forward to today, and the Internet gives us one of the most vast and varied audiences for budding advice columnists. Dear Sugar, included in the New Yorker article linked above, is just one of many. With the swoosh of a sent email, we can anonymously ask virtual experts about any question that pops into our mind.

For this week’s writing challenge, channel your inner Abigail Von Buren. Experiment with the question and answer format. Taking inspiration from a question you’ve been asked recently, whether in conversation with a friend or sent in from a reader, don your best counselor hat and share your expertise.

Not up for kickstarting your career as an advice columnist? We’ve got a few more ways to help get you involved with this week’s focus on advice.

  • What’s the best, or worst, piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
  • You’re the most important writer in the world, and everyone will be tuning in to your blog to listen to the one bit of knowledge you most want to share. What is it?
  • Do you live by the advice you give? Sure, it’s easy to dish out opinions, but are you a pillar of your own beliefs?

We can’t wait to see what nuggets of wisdom you have to share with us this week!

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  1. “When we give advice, it’s because we care about the recipient.” I couldnt agree more. Giving advice isn’t because we think we know better, but because we want to try and make their situation better.

    1. I agree with that, too. I think especially as you get older there is an inherent desire to want to try to help people not make the same mistakes you’ve made in your own life. How to do that without seeming intrusive or a know-it-all, that is the trick.

  2. I don’t give advice. I learned a long time ago that I can screw up my own life well enough without someone helping me and I apply that to others.

    What I do is what I do with my niece. It’s what do you really want and can you live with the results with a touch of ‘how can you find the resources to do what you want’ . I will point out resources such as “Have you called X yet to see what they can offer you?” as in “Have you called the Adult Education Center to see if they offer classes in that?”

    I do not give advice.

    1. Excellent approach, Phil. I’ve run into headwinds with giving advice, particularly with family members, so now I bite my tongue. Follow your gut feeling, remember you have to live with the results seems a very good approach.
      Plan to implement your advice before Holiday season kicks in–always the most difficult of the entire year.
      Thanks for posting.

      1. Just be sure to stress that “What you think you might get from what you do may not be what you get. Can you live with it if another result happens?” Example: You want a friend to stop bringing his girlfriend who acts inappropriately to your parties. So you are going to talk to him and explain she is not welcome. Can you live with him saying “Then I’m not your friend any more.”

  3. Advise has to be backed by experience but not of what we believe..
    We believe a lot of things but everything should not be perfect….
    We do get lot of advises but not the one who listen and take a best of it….

  4. We give advice to help someone with his/her problems. Actually, when we give advice, we look back from our experiences, if not experiences of our friends, relatives or someone we know that is related to the problem of our recipient. With that, we give advices with a real fact.

  5. I suppose the only real piece of advice I gave my bewilderd sons as I dragged them up through the formative years was :no matter how bad things get,hold on in there,they always get better. But never forget,it also works the other way. Remember that ,adjust attitude accordingly and u won’t go far wrong.

  6. I think its best to not give advice unless asked (well maybe). I know for myself, I usually listen and depending on my relationship with that person, I may add my opinion or give some unsolicited advice (but only sometimes). For the most part, I’m a good listener and I like to take in what people say to learn from their stories or experiences. I listen with an open mind and non-judgmental point of view, I’m usually the diplomatic one. It’s also helpful when you hear someone else talk about a situation that you can relate to because it makes you feel a little better knowing your not the only one who going through it. The best advise I can honestly say that I have ever received was, “If you don’t know what to do, do nothing.” It sounds a little silly at first, but if you think about it, it makes sense. I say this because there have been several occasions where I “thought” I had great ideas but after a few days of sitting on them, realized they weren’t so great after all. These ideas were better kept as thoughts and weren’t very practical for my lifestyle. So it helps to not be impulsive and allow yourself time to really think about an idea rather then to just act on it and possibly regret it later.

  7. I always wanted to help troubled teenagers. My husband and I have six children, and they said that I always had a way of helping them when they was hurt by ending loves, school problems and all. I am not bragging or anything like that, I just have a very big sympathetic heart for the young people who struggle with so much peer pressure in this say and time.

  8. I don’t believe in giving advice. A sure way to lose friends. I do believe that listening, asking appropriate questions then getting elaborations with lots more listening is better than any advice that can ever be given. The person usually knows deep within what they are going to do in any situation and letting them talk they usually work out for themselves what they are going to be comfortable doing (and it probably isn’t what you would do).
    My Dear Abby can be found at

74 Responses Ready to write? To participate, publish a post on your blog that responds to the prompt. Include a pingback and we’ll list your post below. Learn More