How to Write a Reflective Essay: What Is A Reflective Essay? Reflective essay writing is a type of analytical writing practice in which the writer describes the happening of a real or an imaginary scene, interaction, event, or even a passing thought or memory that adds to a personal reflection.
While writing a reflective essay, many writers keep in mind and concentrate on the following questions of “what did I see?” “How did it affect me?” “How has this changed me?” etc. Hence, in reflective essays, the focus is not solely given on descriptive writing. The writer is given the task of vividly describing an emotion. The more someone reflectively writes, the better they interpret, the better writer they become and can think out of the box.
The format of a reflective essay may vary from time to time, depending upon the audience. For example, writing a reflective essay will be different for a bunch of college students or scholars from that of a published piece in a magazine. However, the tone and the explanations will be different without effecting some basic ground rules of writing a reflective essay.
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However, the following are some of the main features of a reflective essay
- Reflection: The writer has to incorporate his considerations about the topic and consider his own experiences and thoughts; this helps the writer to come up with a better final product.
- Clarity: The writer should be cohesive and clear about the facts he is writing in the essay. If there is any ambiguity in his writing, the audience will not be convinced and will get confused with several points of view.
- Evidence: Evidence here refers to a writer’s own experiences or academic shreds of evidence in order to back up the various sites and perspectives given by him to his readers.
Types Of Reflective Essay
In general, we can divide reflective essays under three subheads; they are as follows:
- Reflective Essay About Your Character: Every human consist of several distinct character traits that differ from others. Please select any one or two of those qualities, and emphasize it in your essay, discuss how each quality builds up your character. This can be one type of reflective essay.
- Reflective Essay On Your Experiences: another popular kind of reflective essay type is that on one’s affairs. Many people start writing reflective essays as a way to explain their own random experiences stitched together. One can choose both good and bad memories of his/ her likes. However, it is not a good idea to mention those memories or instances that turn your essay into a narrative rather than a reflective one. You can talk about exciting topics like:
- The time you thought of becoming an atheist,
- Your first solo trip to an unknown place,
- The time when your greatest dream got crashed,
- Or it can as simple as the first time you started earning money, how did it feel like?
- Just try to make it more personal and exciting.
- Reflective Essay on Your Relationships: another very personal kind of reflective essay could be about one of your relationships. Humankind being the social creature that we are. Everyone is not a hermit; thus, we meet numerous people throughout our lives, making many relationships.
As reflective essay topics, you can choose any one of those relationships to write about, it is not always about someone you were very close to, but it can be anyone with whom you shared a strong bond or someone who profoundly influenced your life.
It can be your mother or your partner, or it can also be about your annoying neighbor or the vendor near your building.
In this kind of essay, however, you have to concentrate on WHY and HOW to make the most of your writing.
Steps Of Writing A Reflective Essay
Writing a reflective essay involves allowing the writer to relive his own experiences and think about how that particular event or events has changed him/ her as a person. Thus, the most common way to write a reflective essay is in the form of diary entries; however, as mentioned earlier, the format may change depending on the audience.
Here are the following steps that one needs to follow in order to start a reflective essay:
- Giving Focus On Personal Growth: a reflective essay always focuses on the writer’s gain from his mentioned experiences and memories. Thus, many are often used as a strategy to help students learn and analyze emotional growth and development. The essay provides a chance for the students to understand both themselves and their behaviors.
- Focusing on Literature: This kind of essay also gives the chance to explore literature like all other essays but with a touch of explaining personal emotions.
- Thinking About What One Wants To Write: The very first step before actually starting to write a reflective essay is to honestly reflect on the situation that one wants to write about. A reflective essay aims at telling a personal story to its readers, which involves much more than merely recounting a past story. As a starting point, one might start by thinking about the essential or life-changing experiences that have impacted them. It can also be an imaginary experience, a particular place, or an object close to your heart. Here one should note that the aftermath of recalling these experiences is what is most important. You want to pen it down before forgetting, because if one misses onto this, then one is just storytelling and not writing a reflective essay.
- Reflection: it sounds self-evident and repeated throughout the article, but it is one of the most important aspects of writing. One has to spend the most amount of time reflecting the personal feelings about the experience that he/she has selected. At this stage, one might make notes of the various points to make their piece unique and more engaging for the audience. Write down everything that you remember, describing every moment vividly, and adding your inputs. Once you have successfully emptied your brain onto the paper, start reflecting by asking yourself the following questions:
- How did you react when you had the experience?
- What did you learn about yourself as a result of this experience?
- Did you react in a positive or negative way because of this event in your life?
- How did this phenomenon change you as a person?
- Looking back, what do you think you would you have done if you were replaced in that situation now? Asking these questions will kick start your reflection process, which is the key to your essay.
- Think Of An Outline Map: An outline helps establish your writing’s necessary details that one has planned to incorporate in their essay. If you plan an outline course before writing the essay, half of your work gets completed there. If you take some time out to arrange the points you wish to navigate through the piece, your work will have a more precise line of thought, and readers will also enjoy it more.
Reflective Essay Writing Format
The format of a contemplative is not very much alien to the standard essay writing methods; however, it has a different writing approach. Once you complete all the points as mentioned earlier and are ready to start writing, you will have to incorporate the following features:
- Introduction: Start your essay with an introduction like any other essay. You will also have to start your reflective essay with an engaging introduction that contains both a hook and a thesis statement. Here, it would be best to portray your story’s engaging aspects in the first paragraph to avail the higher chances of convincing your readers. On the other hand, the thesis statement refers to giving a small gist or summary of your whole article short beforehand to our readers, just like a film trailer. Remember giving a quick overview and do not let out too much information at the very start.
- Body: The next thing is planning your body. This can be the most challenging part of your writing up as you need to explain the main story and its reflections and experiences vividly yet in a compact manner for your readers. This part takes the most time to form as there will be many trials and errors here. Thus it requires plenty of your time and patience.
Conclusion on How to Write a Reflective Essay
You should focus on bringing a tight end to your reflective essay in the concluding paragraph. You should provide a summary of all the points you mentioned in the essay throughout, and include your last thoughts and how it has impacted you as a person. After all this, you are ready to submit your reflective essay.
FAQ’s On How to Write a Reflective Essay
How can one start a reflective essay?
One should start their reflective essay by a major catch for the audience to grab their attention in the beginning without giving too much away at the same time. Next, start with your instances and experiences, describe your feelings, and conclude how it affected you.
Can one use “I” in a reflective essay?
Reflective essays are meant for expressing one’s personal opinion and experiences; thus, in a reflective essay, it is allowed to use “I” or first-person narrative if one wishes to. Also, the use of some quotations along with your write up will make it more interesting.
How long can I make my reflective essay?
Like any other piece, a reflective essay should also be short and crisp, so a piece of around 500 to 700 words is fine for a student. However, the length of your essay also depends on your requirements.