Reflective Writing: A Complete Guide
If it is the first time that you’ve faced reflective writing, then it’s obvious why you came here for some advice. Reflective writing can be tricky and complicated, especially because not every student understands why they need to complete such a task and how to do it properly. So, let’s find out.
What Is It?
Reflective writing is a process of analyzing, evaluating, and reflecting on various experiences. It is commonly assigned in order to teach students how to get to the core of the problem or question, improve critical thinking, and analyze your assumptions, beliefs, and values.
There are many forms that reflective writing can be performed in, particularly:
- Diary (essay diary and learning diary)
Each of these forms may become an assignment for a student. For example, many literature and writing programs involve writing a blog or review. It might be a warm-up exercise or a way to learn creative writing.
The main specific of the process of reflecting writing is its structure. When writing reflectively, it’s crucial to avoid falling into details of what happened and where and instead concentrate on your reflection and reaction. However, it’s also wrong to pour your thoughts out uncontrollably. You should show not only your writing skills but your ability to analyze and put the information together, summarizing your experience. So, a piece of reflective writing has a skeleton – the main line of the piece, which is supported with evidence and has some sort of direction that it is elaborated in.
So, how can you create a piece of reflective writing if assigned and avoid making common mistakes? Here are a few tips from us.
Focus on the Key Elements
When working on a piece of reflective writing, it’s important to understand its key features.
So, what are the main components of reflective writing? No matter what form you have chosen or were assigned, your work will consist of the following elements:
- The event, experience, or phenomenon that you’re reflecting on with the description of what has happened and how.
- The analysis of the event and your reflection – how it made you feel, what the reasons were behind your reaction, etc.
- The outcomes – what the lesson was and what you should do if this event occurs again.
So, you can see that the structure of the piece of reflective writing is pretty much similar to the structure of an ordinary essay with the introduction, main body, and conclusion. The same structure is kept when you are reflecting on your learning. If you need some advice on writing other types of essays, for example, an exemplification essay, read our other blog posts.
Start with an Outline
Before you start working on your piece, start with a quick outline. A good and thoughtful outline will save you time and will ease the process of elaborating your opinion through the piece.
When you work on your outline, break the piece of paper into three parts that represent the components of your piece. Put the key points into these three sections while you are thinking of what you are going to write about. For example, what the event was, what you have learned, what went wrong/well, what the impact on you was, etc. Just a few words will be enough to guide you through your writing and help you not miss anything.
The Three Core Features
Pay attention to the key features of reflective writing:
- It should provide a description (what, where, when)
- It should provide your expression (I think, I feel, I believe)
- It should provide analysis and explanation (why, how)
The three features above are extremely important for a piece of reflective writing. They are the core principles that you should follow, and each of them should be present in your work, providing your opinion and thoughts. These are also the principles that you use when writing a critical response essay.
Answer the Questions
Reflective writing has steps or stages that you should follow in the process. When writing a piece like that, it’s essential to cover the particular points and answer the questions that help build a reflective analysis. Here are some of the most common questions that you should answer in your piece:
Revisiting the event or experience:
- What was your experience?
- What was significant about it?
- What details can you give?
- What was your role?
Examining your reaction and attitude:
- What was your reaction?
- What were you thinking about?
- Why did you react the way you did?
- Did you notice anything significant, unusual, disturbing?
Expressing and suggesting:
- What lesson have you learned?
- What suggestions can you give?
- What changes do you expect?
If you are reflecting on your learning experience, you can also use the same structure and answer the same questions focusing on the perception of the course and its content. It’s a great way to get a better understanding of what you are learning and even clarify the connections between various pieces of knowledge.
Reflective writing can be hard in terms of expressing your thoughts and analyzing them from the perspective of a particular topic. However, once you get an understanding of what your task is, create a quick outline, and write down some key points, you will see that writing the rest of your work is not that hard. However, if you face troubles with this or any other type of assignment, you can always count on our team of experts who can help you structure and express your thoughts. Just let us know if you need our help!