Getting Started or Stopping the Block

Getting Started or Stopping the Block

A Lesson by Annie Ale

This course for teaching isn't about how to get published. Its more about how to start writing, and how to get over a writer's block. I also included advise from famous authors as a confidence booster. The content is a copy/paste of what the handouts are, so if the format is off, I apologize. I also included my resource list.


Handout 1-Purpose for Writing


-To Express One’s Self

-Initiate Change


          -Public Forum

-Attention Seeking

-To Educate Others



-Share Knowledge

-Become Famous

-Solve Problems

-Make Money

-Report an Event

-Just Because…










Handout 2: Types of Writing

-Narrative-such as a personal essay.  Uses “I”. Tells the story. Includes characters, events, dialogue, etc. 


-Descriptive-Describes a person, place or thing in detail.  Focuses on one subject at a time. 


-Expository-Factual information.  Excludes opinions and most details. Often includes instruction.


-Persuasive-Opinion supported by facts.  Used to disprove one side and prove another.  Debate writing.

Compare and/or Contrast-can be done from a factual or creative standpoint. 


Poetry-often expresses feelings or ideas in a type of rhythm (these are six common poems, but there are so many more!)

          -Haiku         -Name Poem         -Prose (exception to rhyming rule)

          -Epitaph-written to praise a deceased person, usually on a permanent structure such as a monument or tombstone         

-Lyric-expresses thoughts and feelings of the poet           -Limerick


Letter-often written to an organization or person to persuade or express. (a few examples listed below!)

          -Cover Letters       -Business/Application Letters   -Complaint Letters                   -Personal Letters        -Acknowledgement Letters


Short Story-this is a sample of what some are, but there are so many more types, names, and catagories.

          -Revenge     -Fantasy       -Discovery   -Fish Out of Water-taking a character and putting them in an unfamiliar surrounding

          -Escape       -Humor/Comedy  -Educational                   -Local Color-a story specific to a location; a local story     


Essay-most often limits itself to one or two subjects, displaying an opinion.  Here are four common types, with many more out there. 

-Analysis      -Informal/Narrative         -Cause and Effect  -Compare and Contrast


Book/Novel- a story of considerable length, consisting of 30,000 words or more.  Books and Novels can be about anything, however, a novel is usually considered a story, not an instruction manual.









Handout 3-Writing Exercises and Suggestions

These are for when you want to start, or when you get stuck!

Free Association/Brainstorming-write whatever comes to mind. You could write sentences, a list, or a combination.

Interest-write about a hobby or interest you have. 

Writing Prompts-If you are starting a story, or if you have got stuck somewhere between the beginning and end, writing prompts are great tools to unblock the flow of pent up knowledge!  Start writing a new subject or incorporate into an old. 

Steal a Line-use a quote from your favorite person, movie, or writing piece, and use that as a diving board for your writing.

Point of View-write from the point of view from either the direct, supporting role, or from an obscure character looking into the situation. 

Change Your Scenery-if you’re stuck, take a walk, got to a different seat, sit at a different café, visit a museum.  A change of scenery will often help jar loose the mental rock that’s in place!

Write Something Everyday-write something everyday, even if it’s just a sentence.  Write even if you don’t feel like writing, do it anyway! 

Dictionary-find a word in the dictionary that you aren’t familiar with, read the definition, and write around that word, or make sure one of the sentences contains that word. 

Observation-write about your surroundings. Write about the sounds, the smells, the sights.  Use as much detail as possible. 

Plot a Painting-take a photo or painting in which you are unfamiliar with the history, and write about what either led up to that scene, start with that scene and explain what happens after, or both. 

TIP: Whatever it is that you write, keep!  You never know when the need for those ideas will be needed!


Handout 4-Advice From the Professionals


“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.
Madeleine L'Engle


“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
Mark Twain


“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
Sylvia Plath


“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them -- words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they're brought out. But it's more than that, isn't it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you've said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That's the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a tellar but for want of an understanding ear.”
-Stephen King,
Different Seasons


“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I'm afraid of. ”
Joss Whedon


“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
-R.L. Stine


“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it to be God.”
-Sidney Sheldon


“Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”
-Henry David Thoreau


“If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” 

-Toni Morrison


“Keep a diary and one day it'll keep you.” 

-Mae West


“I write because I want more than one life; I insist on a wider selection. It's greed, plain and simple. ”

-Anne Taylor






























In Case It’s Needed-Writing Prompts


-What was in that letter forever changed their life course…


-Take two inanimate objects, make them animate, and write about their relationship


-The protagonist and antagonist have to join forces; why?


-The rest of my life started in a cubicle…


-Take a picture from your photo album, and write an alternate story to that picture than what really happened that day.


-You find out one day that pigs really can fly.  What promises will you now have to carry out…


-Take a book you have been reading, and write the ending before reading it.  Then compare your ending with the original. 


-Take your favorite character from one story and insert them into another.  Describe their experience. 


-Write a letter to a person named Iris. Start it with “Dear Iris”


-If you inadvertently found out someone was spying on you, but you were certain they didn’t know that you knew.  Describe what you would do differently.


-Take the nearest chapter book closest to you; turn to page 78, and go down to the 5th sentence.  Start your writing with that sentence.  


-Take an inanimate object, like a coin, and pretend a camera is attached to it.  Describe what the camera would see and hear in that day. 


-You buy an item of clothing at a second hand shop.  Going through the pockets, you find a piece of paper with an address on it, which advises to meet Alex the next day at a specific address.  Assuming you go to meet with the person, what adventure ensues?








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Added on April 18, 2013
Last Updated on April 18, 2013

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Annie Ale
Annie Ale

Des Moines, IA

I am primarily a poet, but I also write stories, and have my own Facebook page for The Story Mechanist, which has contests and goes to events to encourage others to write their stories. I use writi..