What is Reflective Essay Writing?

Published by at August 3rd, 2022 , Revised On August 3, 2022

A reflective essay is a creative writing approach that involves self-reflection regarding an event or scenario. The goal of a reflective essay is to express your insights or articulate your thoughts about a particular experience. At first, reflecting essays might seem simple, but if you are not sure how to approach them, they can become real headaches. The structure and understanding of a reflective essay are similar to those of other essays. However, you should write it in a more personal style, like a diary.

The structure and format of reflective essays are similar to the outline of a standard essay. Start with a strong hook and a compelling introduction. Draw the reader in without giving too much away, then summarise the topic. Then move ahead with the main body of the essay by explaining your experience and development in the main body of the essay. End your essay with a powerful conclusion in which you summarise your findings. This article explains in detail how to write an excellent reflective essay. It provides tips on structuring and writing, making it the perfect resource for anyone looking for help with a reflection essay.

Steps to Prepare Yourself for a Reflective Essay

Remember that a reflective essay is very personal and aims to engage the reader or audience as you decide on the content of your essay. A reflective essay involves a lot more than just telling a story. It is about being able to reflect on your experiences and show how they have affected your actions/life. Think of an event that could be the topic of your essay. Once you have decided on an event, think about how you think it affected your life and why. It will help you develop a thesis statement that will be the basis of your essay.

You should start reflecting after successfully clearing the contents of your memory. Choosing some reflection questions that help you think more deeply about the impact and long-term consequences of your experience is a fantastic start. Here are some useful questions for you to reflect on:

  • What did you learn about yourself through the event?
  • Did you grow as a result of the event? And how?
  • Did the event have an impact on your life, either positive or negative?
  • If you could go back in time, what would you do differently?
  • Why do you think you made the choices you did? Do you think they were the best decisions?

These guidepost probing questions are intended to help you begin your reflection. Remember that it is important to do plenty of questioning yourself so that you can engage deeply and think critically about your experience.

Make a Plan

Even if you feel well prepared after all the time you have spent thinking, you should not start writing your essay until you have developed a comprehensive, well-thought-out strategy. Your text will be much more coherent, and your thoughts will be structured and formulated, translating into a better grade for your essay.

The main advantages of outlining an essay are summarized here;

  • An outline lets you determine the key information points to include in your essay.
  • The outline is useful for weeding out unnecessary information that can be omitted to keep your essay concise and to the point.
  • Outlining will save you a lot of time. It will serve as a basic structure of your essay, so you will have a lot of time to write the complete essay as you are well aware of what needs to be written. As a result, you’ll have more time to edit the paper and ensure it’s of great quality.

While you know the benefits of an outline for your thoughtful essay, you must need to learn how to create one. Because of the different topics, the outline may differ significantly from other common essay outlines. However, one thing remains constant: you need to start your outline with the introduction, the main body and the conclusion. Let’s discuss it in detail below;

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Introduction

As with other essays, your reflective essay must begin with an introduction that includes a hook and a thesis statement. A’ hook’ aims to capture the attention of your audience or reader immediately. To have the best chance of keeping your reader’s attention, you must depict the interesting components of your story in the first paragraph. The thesis statement is a quick description of the essay’s main point, which in this case is a specific experience that had a big impact on you. Remember to give a concise summary of your experience; if you give too much information away, your reader may become bored.

Main Body

The next step is to organize the main body of your essay. It is often the most difficult part of the essay, as it is easy to get bogged down and repetitive in both the planning and the actual writing. Have you ever tried to tell a story to a friend, only to be told to “keep the long narrative short”? Make sure the body of your reflective essay is well-focused and includes appropriate critique and reflection. It should summarise not only your experience but also address the impact it has had on your life and the lessons you have learned. In general, reflection should take precedence over the summary. A reflective attitude would provide information to the readers and make them feel they have achieved something.

A reflective posture provides readers insight into your experience and highlights your personality and ability to deal with or adapt to various situations.

Conclusion

In the end, your focus of attention should be to sum up your reflection essay by providing a synopsis of both the ideas presented throughout the essay and what you have learnt from it. Also, address why and how your beliefs and behaviour patterns have changed. Reflect on how your personality and abilities have been influenced. Draw some conclusions about what you should do in certain situations. What would you do if you were in a similar situation again? What actions have you taken to consider all that you have learned from your experience? Remember that your tutor will be looking for high-quality evidence of reflection.

Well done! You’re finally in a position to draft a detailed and exact outline that will help you prepare for the most important aspect of an essay: the actual writing process.

Writing Process

We have listed some points below that will make writing easier for you;

  • When writing an essay, always use the first person and ensure that the overall tone of the essay should be personal and indicative of who you are.
  • If necessary, refer to our earlier advice on writing an outline. As you write your essay, be sure to present your ideas in a logical order, keeping your main learning objectives in mind.
  • To catch your reader’s attention, start your introduction with a short theatrical example, quote, or use other engaging strategies such as flashbacks, etc.
  • Don’t try to pack all of your experiences into a single essay; instead, focus on the most important and memorable events.
  • To describe your feelings and emotions appropriately, choose your vocabulary carefully. Remember that reflective texts have a descriptive component, so you need many adjectives to choose from.
  • Avoid using ambiguous adjectives like ‘okay’ or ‘pleasant,’ as they don’t reveal anything about your feelings or personality. Make your writing more engaging by being more specific.
  • Once you have known and reflected on your experience, you should ask yourself the following questions: What did I value most about it and why? How successful has the method been in the past? Think about how you felt immediately after the encounter and how they differ now to assess the discrepancy between your initial and current assessments. Asking yourself such questions will help you write an effective and efficient reflection report.

Final Key Points to Remember

The key to writing reflective essays lies in explaining what lessons you learnt from past experiences and why and how these lessons have changed your life.

To begin the reflective thinking process, you must intentionally attempt to recognize and analyze your thoughts in response to a particular experience. Don’t be afraid to look into any prior information or experience with the issue, as this will help you figure out why you have certain viewpoints on the subject. Remember that assessing your attitudes, assumptions, and values is at the heart of reflective essay writing, so be honest about how you feel. Reflective writing can be quite therapeutic as it can help you recognize and sort out your strengths and limitations, especially gaps in your knowledge. It is also a wonderful approach to improving your critical thinking skills.

If you’re still having trouble getting started with your writing, consider mind-mapping, which will help you organize your thoughts and ideas to write a logical piece. Making a mental map will ensure that your argument is expressed in a logical and easy-to-understand manner for your professor. Here’s a brief overview of the contents of this article, which can also be used to make a mind map;

  • Decide on the topic you’ll be writing about.
  • Note down all the related concepts, and if you like, try to design a diagram that connects all the themes, theories and ideas.
  • Let your thoughts run free, knowing you will have plenty of time to revise your work later.
  • Think about how your ideas are connected, and then start writing.

Some Topics

Because a reflective essay requires you to write about a personal experience, you are free to choose any incident. It’s similar to keeping a diary in which you put down your feelings regarding a key event in your life. It might be about a special book you read, a challenging scenario you faced, or a person you met—the point is to express your opinion. For instance, you could write about:

  • The first time you fall in love – Examine the feelings and emotions of falling in love and how it affects you.
  • What is it about the beauty of a sunset that has such an influence on you?
  • What is it about the special area in your house that is so important?
  • What was it like working your first job? What was its significance of it?
  • Your first date – Think about how you felt on the first date. Was it able to live up to the hype, or did it fall short
  • Getting engaged – Talk about how you feel and the experience.
  • Your most humiliating moment – Everyone’s most humiliating moment is unique, yet there is always much room for improvement.
  • The birth or death of a loved one can have a huge impact on a person.
  • People are either good or awful at giving speeches in public. How did you feel at the time?
  • Were you able to get past your first argument with a friend? How old were you at the time? What effect did it have on your relationship?
  • A big win or loss for a sports team – this may be a team you used to play for or one you adore.
  • Moving – This could be to college or away from home. Examine how the relocation affected you.
  • Is it necessary to attend college? – People have strong feelings towards college in one way or another. What have been your personal experiences?
  • What college has taught you – How has college influenced your thinking and behaviour? Has it aided your personal development?
  • A vacation you’ll never forget – What was memorable about the holiday?

Concluding Remarks

Remember: your main purpose is to express your perspective and evaluate a topic while referencing and reflecting on some of your prior experiences—not to write your autobiography. You can use our reflective essay samples to connect theory and practice now that you’ve learned the basics of analytical essay writing tips and rules.

About Ellie Cross

I am Content Manager at this prestigious organization who has been assisting students for a long time. I have been part of Essays UK since its inception and have seen all the ups and downs it has faced in all those years. I manage a growing team of great writers and content marketers who are contributing to a great extent to help students with their academics.