Ask ARL is a print and online monthly segment of Arlingtonian. Submit your questions at to receive advice on all corners of life. Questions are edited for length and clarity.

Q: What are some concrete ways to avoid writer’s block when writing essays and personal narratives?

A: Create a list of ideas. As soon as a topic or experience pops into your head, jot it down. You might try keeping a journal to not only keep tabs on what is happening in your day-to-day life but also revelations you have throughout the day. You’ll be able to look through these notes when you must write a narrative. Another tip would be to quote interesting things you hear people say. I’ve had a memo I’ve been adding to the past few years and I review it every so often. I find that using other perspectives and frames of mind help in creating a well-rounded plot. Or, you could just write word vomit and edit it at a future time. Write or Die is a website that sets time constraints in order for you to reach a specific word count; it’ll force you to get your ideas out.

Q: I know of people who are vaping, but if I talk about it, they might hate me. What should I do? I don’t really want to get them in trouble, do I?

A: Look at it this way: by staying quiet, you would be doing more harm than help. If you tell trusted adults, you’ll be saving your friends from prolonged addiction and health problems. This can be done anonymously so your friends would never know it was you. It may be safer for you to distance yourself from them when they’re actively vaping as you may be put into an uncomfortable situation due to peer pressure. In the long run, your friends will not “hate” you for expressing your concern as it is ultimately in their best interest.

Q: How can I make more upper- and underclassmen friends? I want to know more people outside of my own grade, but I’m unsure how to.

A: Take a few electives. Most base electives, or ones that don’t hold prerequisites, will include a mix of all four grade groups such as theatre production or journalism I and II *nudge, nudge*. Check out the program of studies, all course descriptions and pathways are listed in it. Electives are a surefire way to meet new people. If you aren’t interested in using a class period for an elective, join a few clubs. Not only will you be finding friends, you will also be satisfying your interests.