How to Write a Reflective Essay: Easy Guide with Pro Tips 2023
Defining What is a Reflective Essay: Purpose + Importance
Being present is a cornerstone of mindfulness and meditation. You must have often heard that staying in the moment helps you appreciate your surroundings, connects you with people and nature, and allows you to feel whatever emotions you must feel without anxiety. While this is helpful advice as you become more focused and avoid getting lost in thought, how can you truly appreciate the present without reflecting on your past experiences that have led you to the current moment?
We don't say that you should dwell on the past and get carried away with a constant thought process, but hey, hear us out - practice reflective thinking! Think back on your previous life events, paint a true picture of history, and make connections to your present self. This requires you to get a bit analytical and creative. So you might as well document your critical reflection on a piece of paper and give direction to your personal observations. That's when the need for reflective essays steps in!
In a reflective essay, you open up about your thoughts and emotions to uncover your mindset, personality, traits of character, and background. Your reflective essay should include a description of the experience/literature piece as well as explanations of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. In this article, our essay writer service will share our ultimate guide on how to write a reflective essay with a clear format and reflective essay examples that will inspire you.
How to Write a Reflective Essay with a Proper Reflective Essay Outline
To give you a clear idea of structuring a reflective essay template, we broke down the essential steps below. Primarily, the organization of a reflective essay is very similar to other types of papers. However, our custom writers got more specific with the reflective essay outline to ease your writing process.
Reflective Essay Introduction
When wondering how to start a reflective essay, it is no surprise that you should begin writing your paper with an introductory paragraph. So, what's new and different with the reflection essay introduction? Let's dissect:
- Open your intro with an attention-seizing hook that engages your audience into reflective thinking with you. It can be something like: 'As I was sitting on my bed with my notebook placed on my shaky lap waiting for the letter of acceptance, I could not help but reflect, was enrolling in college the path I wanted to take in the future?'
- Provide context with a quick overview of the reflective essay topic. Don't reveal too much information at the start to prevent your audience from becoming discouraged to continue reading.
- Make a claim with a strong reflective essay thesis statement. It should be a simple explanation of the essay's main point, in this example, a specific event that had a big impact on you.
Reflective Essay Body Paragraphs
The next step is to develop the body of your essay. This section of the paper may be the most challenging because it's simple to ramble and replicate yourself both in the outline and the actual writing. Planning the body properly requires a lot of time and work, and the following advice can assist you in doing this effectively:
- Consider using a sequential strategy. This entails reviewing everything you wish to discuss in the order it occurred. This method ensures that your work is structured and cohesive.
- Make sure the body paragraph is well-rounded and employs the right amount of analysis. The body should go into the effects of the event on your life and the insights you've gained as a consequence.
- Prioritize reflecting rather than summarizing your points. In addition to giving readers insight into your personal experience, a reflective stance will also show off your personality and demonstrate your ability to handle certain challenges.
Reflective Essay Conclusion
The goal of your reflective essay conclusion should be to tie everything together by summarizing the key ideas raised throughout, as well as the lessons you were able to take away from experience.
- Don't forget to include the reasons for and the methods used to improve your beliefs and actions. Think about how your personality and skills have changed as well.
- What conclusions can you draw about your behavior in particular circumstances? What could you do differently if the conditions were the same in the future?
Remember that your instructor will be searching for clear signs of reflection.
Understanding a Reflection Paper Format
The format of reflective essay greatly differs from an argumentative or research paper. A reflective essay is more of a well-structured story or a diary entry rife with insight and reflection. You might be required to arrange your essay using the APA style or the MLA format.
And the typical reflection paper length varies between 300 and 700 words, but ask your instructor about the word length if it was assigned to you. Even though this essay is about you, try to avoid too much informal language.
If your instructor asks you to use an APA or MLA style format for reflective essay, here are a few shortcuts:
Reflective Essay in MLA Format
- Times New Roman 12pt font double spaced;
- 1" margins;
- The top right includes the last name and page number on every page;
- Titles are centered;
- The header should include your name, your professor's name, course number, and the date (dd/mm/yy);
- The last page includes a Works Cited.
Reflective Essay in APA Style
- Include a page header on the top of every page;
- Insert page number on the right;
- Your reflective essay should be divided into four parts: Title Page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
Reflective Essay Writing Tips
You may think we've armed you with enough tips and pointers for reflective writing, but it doesn't stop here. Below we gathered some expert-approved tips for constructing uncontested reflection papers.
- Be as detailed as possible while writing. To make your reflective essay writing come to life, you should employ several tactics such as symbolism, sentence patterns, etc.
- Keep your audience in mind. The reader will become frustrated if you continue writing in the first person without taking a moment to convey something more important, even though you will likely speak about something from your own perspective.
- Put forth the effort to allow the reader to feel the situation or emotion you are attempting to explain.
- Don't preach; demonstrate. Instead of just reporting what happened, use description appropriately to paint a clear picture of the event or sensation.
- Plan the wording and structure of your reflective essay around a central emotion or subject, such as joy, pleasure, fear, or grief.
- Avoid adding dull elements that can lessen the effect of your work. Why include it if it won't enhance the emotion or understanding you wish to convey?
- There must be a constant sense of progression. Consider whether the event has transformed you or others around you.
- Remember to double-check your grammar, syntax, and spelling.
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Reflective Essay Topic Ideas
As a reflective essay should be about your own views and experiences, you generally can't use someone else's ideas. But to help you get started, here are some suggestions for writing topics:
- An experience you will never forget.
- The moment you overcame a fear.
- The most difficult choice you had to make.
- A time your beliefs were challenged.
- A time something changed your life.
- The happiest or most frightening moment of your life so far.
- Ways you think you or people can make the world a better place.
- A time you felt lost.
- An introspective look at your choices or a time you made the wrong choice.
- A moment in your life you would like to relive.
You may find it convenient to create a chart or table to keep track of your ideas. Split your chart into three parts:
- In the first column, write key experiences or your main points. You can arrange them from most important to least important.
- In the second column, list your response to the points you stated in the first column.
- In the third column, write what, from your response, you would like to share in the essay.
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Reflective Essay Sample
Referring to reflective essay examples can help you a lot. A reflective essay sample can provide you with useful insight into how your essay should look like. You can also buy an essay online if you need one customized to your specific requirements.
How to Conclude a Reflective Essay
As we come to an end, it's only logical to reflect on the main points discussed above in the article. By now, you should clearly understand what is a reflective essay and that the key to writing a reflective essay is demonstrating what lessons you have taken away from your experiences and why and how these lessons have shaped you. It should also have a clear reflective essay format, with an opening, development of ideas, and resolution.
Now that you have the tools to create a thorough and accurate reflective paper, you might want to hand over other tasks like writing definition essay examples to our experienced writers. In this case, feel free to buy an essay online on our platform and reflect on your past events without worrying about future assignments!
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Writing reflectively is essential to many academic programmes and also to completing applications for employment. This page considers what reflective writing is and how to do it.
What is reflection?
Reflection is something that we do everyday as part of being human. We plan and undertake actions, then think about whether each was successful or not, and how we might improve next time. We can also feel reflection as emotions, such as satisfaction and regret, or as a need to talk over happenings with friends. See below for an introduction to reflection as a concept.
Reflection in everyday life [Google Slides]
What is reflective writing?
Reflective writing should be thought of as recording reflective thinking. This can be done in an everyday diary entry, or instruction in a recipe book to change a cooking method next time. In academic courses, reflective is more complex and focussed. This section considers the main features of reflective writing.
Reflective writing for employability
When applying for jobs, or further academic study, students are required to think through what they have done in their degrees and translate it into evaluative writing that fulfils the criteria of job descriptions and person specifications. This is a different style of writing, the resource below will enable you to think about how to begin this transition.
There are also lots of resources available through the university's careers service and elsewhere on the Skills Guides. The links below are to pages that can offer further support and guidance.
- Careers and Placements Service resources Lots of resources that relate to all aspects of job applications, including tailored writing styles and techniques.
The language of reflective writing
Reflective academic writing is:
- almost always written in the first person.
- evaluative - you are judging something.
- partly personal, partly based on criteria.
- analytical - you are usually categorising actions and events.
- formal - it is for an academic audience.
- carefully constructed.
Look at the sections below to see specific vocabulary types and sentence constructions that can be useful when writing reflectively.
Language for exploring outcomes
A key element of writing reflectively is being able to explain to the reader what the results of your actions were. This requires careful grading of language to ensure that what you write reflects the evidence of what happened and to convey clearly what you achieved or did not achieve.
Below are some ideas and prompts of how you can write reflectively about outcomes, using clarity and graded language.
Expressing uncertainty when writing about outcomes:
- It is not yet clear that…
- I do not yet (fully) understand...
- It is unclear...
- It is not yet fully clear...
- It is not yet (fully?) known…
- It appears to be the case that…
- It is too soon to tell....
Often, in academic learning, the uncertainty in the outcomes is a key part of the learning and development that you undertake. It is vital therefore that you explain this clearly to the reader using careful choices in your language.
Writing about how the outcome relates to you:
- I gained (xxxx) skills…
- I developed…
- The experience/task/process taught me…
- I achieved…
- I learned that…
- I found that…
In each case you can add in words like, ‘significantly’, ‘greatly’, ‘less importantly’ etc. The use of evaluative adjectives enables you to express to the reader the importance and significance of your learning in terms of the outcomes achieved.
Describing how you reached your outcomes:
- Having read....
- Having completed (xxxx)...
- I analysed…
- I applied…
- I learned…
- I experienced…
- Having reflected…
This gives the reader an idea of the nature of the reflection they are reading. How and why you reach the conclusions and learning that you express in your reflective writing is important so the reader can assess the validity and strength of your reflections.
Projecting your outcomes into the future:
- If I completed a similar task in the future I would…
- Having learned through this process I would…
- Next time I will…
- I will need to develop…. (in light of the outcomes)
- Next time my responses would be different....
When showing the reader how you will use your learning in the future, it is important to be specific and again, to use accurate graded language to show how and why what you choose to highlight matters. Check carefully against task instructions to see what you are expected to reflect into the future about.
When reflecting in academic writing on outcomes, this can mean either the results of the task you have completed, for example, the accuracy of a titration in a Chemistry lab session, or what you have learned/developed within the task, for example, ensuring that an interview question is written clearly enough to produce a response that reflects what you wished to find out.
Language choices are important in ensuring the reader can see what you think in relation to the reflection you have done.
Language for interpretation
When you interpret something you are telling the reader how important it is, or what meaning is attached to it.
You may wish to indicate the value of something:
E.g. 'the accuracy of the transcription was essential to the accuracy of the eventual coding and analysis of the interviews undertaken. The training I undertook was critical to enabling me to transcribe quickly and accurately'
You may wish to show how ideas, actions or some other aspect developed over time:
- in sequence
E.g. 'Before we could produce the final version of the presentation, we had to complete both the research and produce a plan. This was achieved later than expected, leading to subsequent rushing of creating slides, and this contributed to a lower grade'.
You may wish to show your viewpoint or that of others:
- did not think
- did/did not do something
Each of these could be preceded by 'we' or 'I'.
E.g. 'I noticed that the model of the bridge was sagging. I expressed this to the group, and as I did so I noticed that two members did not seem to grasp how serious the problem was. I proposed a break and a meeting, during which I intervened to show the results of inaction.'
There is a huge range of language that can be used for interpretation, the most important thing is to remember your reader and be clear with them about what your interpretation is, so they can see your thinking and agree or disagree with you.
Language for analysis
When reflecting, it is important to show the reader that you have analysed the tasks, outcomes, learning and all other aspects that you are writing about. In most cases, you are using categories to provide structure to your reflection. Some suggestions of language to use when analysing in reflective writing are below:
Signposting that you are breaking down a task or learning into categories:
- An aspect of…
- An element of…
- An example of…
- A key feature of the task was... (e.g. teamwork)
- The task was multifaceted… (then go on to list or describe the facets)
- There were several experiences…
- ‘X’ is related to ‘y’
There may be specific categories that you should consider in your reflection. In teamwork, it could be individual and team performance, in lab work it could be accuracy and the reliability of results. It is important that the reader can see the categories you have used for your analysis.
Analysis by chronology:
- Stage 1 (or other)
In many tasks the order in which they were completed matters. This can be a key part of your reflection, as it is possible that you may learn to do things in a different order next time or that the chronology influenced the outcomes.
Analysis by perspective:
- I considered
These language choices show that you are analysing purely by your own personal perspective. You may provide evidence to support your thinking, but it is your viewpoint that matters.
- What I expected from the reading did not happen…
- The Theory did not appear in our results…
- The predictions made were not fulfilled…
- The outcome was surprising because… (and link to what was expected)
These language choices show that you are analysing by making reference to academic learning (from an academic perspective). This means you have read or otherwise learned something and used it to form expectations, ideas and/or predictions. You can then reflect on what you found vs what you expected. The reader needs to know what has informed our reflections.
- Organisation X should therefore…
- A key recommendation is…
- I now know that organisation x is…
- Theory A can be applied to organisation X
These language choices show that analysis is being completed from a systems perspective. You are telling the reader how your learning links into the bigger picture of systems, for example, what an organisation or entity might do in response to what you have learned.
Analysing is a key element of being reflective. You must think through the task, ideas, or learning you are reflecting on and use categories to provide structure to your thought. This then translates into structure and language choices in your writing, so your reader can see clearly how you have used analysis to provide sense and structure to your reflections.
Language for evaluation
Reflecting is fundamentally an evaluative activity. Writing about reflection is therefore replete with evaluative language. A skillful reflective writer is able to grade their language to match the thinking it is expressing to the reader.
Language to show how significant something is:
- Most importantly
- The principal lesson was…
- In each case the language is quantifying the significance of the element you are describing, telling the reader the product of your evaluative thought.
For example, ‘when team working I initially thought that we would succeed by setting out a plan and then working independently, but in fact, constant communication and collaboration were crucial to success. This was the most significant thing I learned.’
Language to show the strength of relationships:
- X is strongly associated with Y
- A is a consequence of B
- There is a probable relationship between…
- C does not cause D
- A may influence B
- I learn most strongly when doing A
In each case the language used can show how significant and strong the relationship between two factors are.
For example, ‘I learned, as part of my research methods module, that the accuracy of the data gained through surveys is directly related to the quality of the questions. Quality can be improved by reading widely and looking at surveys in existing academic papers to inform making your own questions’
Language to evaluate your viewpoint:
- I was convinced...
- I have developed significantly…
- I learned that...
- The most significant thing that I learned was…
- Next time, I would definitely…
- I am unclear about…
- I was uncertain about…
These language choices show that you are attaching a level of significance to your reflection. This enables the reader to see what you think about the learning you achieved and the level of significance you attach to each reflection.
For example, ‘when using systematic sampling of a mixed woodland, I was convinced that method A would be most effective, but in reality, it was clear that method B produced the most accurate results. I learned that assumptions based on reading previous research can lead to inaccurate predictions. This is very important for me as I will be planning a similar sampling activity as part of my fourth year project’
Evaluating is the main element of reflecting. You need to evaluate the outcomes of the activities you have done, your part in them, the learning you achieved and the process/methods you used in your learning, among many other things. It is important that you carefully use language to show the evaluative thinking you have completed to the reader.
Varieties of reflective writing in academic studies
There are a huge variety of reflective writing tasks, which differ between programmes and modules. Some are required by the nature of the subject, like in Education, where reflection is a required standard in teaching.
Some are required by the industry area graduates are training for, such as 'Human Resources Management', where the industry accreditation body require evidence of reflective capabilities in graduates.
In some cases, reflection is about the 'learning to learn' element of degree studies, to help you to become a more effective learner. Below, some of the main reflective writing tasks found in University of York degrees are explored. In each case the advice, guidance and materials do not substitute for those provided within your modules.
Reflective essay writing
Reflective essay tasks vary greatly in what they require of you. The most important thing to do is to read the assessment brief carefully, attend any sessions and read any materials provided as guidance and to allocate time to ensure you can do the task well.
Reflective learning statements
Reflective learning statements are often attached to dissertations and projects, as well as practical activities. They are an opportunity to think about and tell the reader what you have learned, how you will use the learning, what you can do better next time and to link to other areas, such as your intended career.
Making a judgement about academic performance
Think of this type of writing as producing your own feedback. How did you do? Why? What could you improve next time? These activities may be a part of modules, they could be attached to a bigger piece of work like a dissertation or essay, or could be just a part of your module learning.
The four main questions to ask yourself when reflecting on your academic performance.
- Why exactly did you achieve the grade you have been awarded? Look at your feedback, the instructions, the marking scheme and talk to your tutors to find out if you don't know.
- How did your learning behaviours affect your academic performance? This covers aspects such as attendance, reading for lectures/seminars, asking questions, working with peers... the list goes on.
- How did your performance compare to others? Can you identify when others did better or worse? Can you talk to your peers to find out if they are doing something you are not or being more/less effective?
- What can you do differently to improve your performance? In each case, how will you ensure you can do it? Do you need training? Do you need a guide book or resources?
When writing about each of the above, you need to keep in mind the context of how you are being asked to judge your performance and ensure the reader gains the detail they need (and as this is usually a marker, this means they can give you a high grade!).
Writing a learning diary/blog/record
A learning diary or blog has become a very common method of assessing and supporting learning in many degree programmes. The aim is to help you to think through your day-to-day learning and identify what you have and have not learned, why that is and what you can improve as you go along. You are also encouraged to link your learning to bigger thinking, like future careers or your overall degree.
Other support for reflective writing
The general writing pages of this site offer guidance that can be applied to all types of writing, including reflective writing. Also check your department's guidance and VLE sites for tailored resources.
Other useful resources for reflective writing:
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Reflective essays are academic essays; what makes an essay "good" will work for a reflective essay. What is different about a reflective essay is that the essay is about you and your thinking. However, you will need evidence from your course to back up your reflections.
You should structure a reflective essay as an essay, that is write to persuade your reader of your key reflections (or argument). The diagram above, details how to stucture your reflections through the essay. To find out more see the section on essay writing .
The following example comes from business. Thanks to Dr Colleen Hayes for the three samples.
Students were asked to write a reflective essay on their learning in the course by responding to the following question:
What key thing have you learned about corporate social responsibility in the course?
Example 1: Retelling
This writing is (1) descriptive/listing of content, not reflective and (2) not properly referenced (the definition of stakeholders is directly copied from Freeman in the lecture slides.
Example 2: Relating
This writing involves relating to personal experience and has some integration of course concepts (stakeholders).
Example 3: Reflecting
More reflective (forward-looking), better citation and integration of multiple course concepts, and reflection that links with personal experience.
An anthropology marking rubric
For this assessment, students were required to write a 1500-1800 word essay building on the themes of the course to address the question "We are all pirates". Attached under reference documents is the rubric used to mark the essay (thanks to Dr Caroline Schuster). Notice that it requires both the reflection (reflect, relate and retell) as well as the poor traditional requirements of an essay (Writing and organisation, Supporting claims with scholarly sources).
Use contact details to request an alternative file format.
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Examples of Reflective Writing
Types of reflective writing assignments.
A journal requires you to write weekly entries throughout a semester. May require you to base your reflection on course content.
A learning diary is similar to a journal, but may require group participation. The diary then becomes a place for you to communicate in writing with other group members.
A logbook is often used in disciplines based on experimental work, such as science. You note down or 'log' what you have done. A log gives you an accurate record of a process and helps you reflect on past actions and make better decisions for future actions.
A reflective note is often used in law. A reflective note encourages you to think about your personal reaction to a legal issue raised in a course.
An essay diary can take the form of an annotated bibliography (where you examine sources of evidence you might include in your essay) and a critique (where you reflect on your own writing and research processes).
a peer review usually involves students showing their work to their peers for feedback.
A self-assessment task requires you to comment on your own work.
Some examples of reflective writing
Social science fieldwork report (methods section), engineering design report, learning journal (weekly reflection).
Brookfield, S 1987, Developing critical thinkers: challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting , Open University Press, Milton Keynes.
Mezirow, J 1990, Fostering critical reflection in adulthood: a guide to transformative and emancipatory learning , Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.
Schön, DA 1987, Educating the reflective practitioner , Jossey-Bass. San Francisco.
We thank the students who permitted us to feature examples of their writing.
Prepared by Academic Skills, UNSW. This guide may be distributed or adapted for educational purposes. Full and proper acknowledgement is required.
Essay and assignment writing guide
- Essay writing basics
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- Answering assignment questions
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- How do I write reflectively?
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Reflective Essay Writing
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Thought and reflection are a major part of our inner lives. Whenever we engage with art and literature or experience anything novel, we tend to reflect on it later.
What if we write our reflections down in a structured way? That is a reflective essay.
Among various types of essays , reflective essays stand out for being the most personal form of writing. Reflective writing lets you explore your thoughts and experiences about something and gain profound insights into yourself and the world around you.
So how can you write a great reflective essay? Read on to understand reflective essays better with examples and get useful tips.
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What is a Reflective Essay?
A reflective essay is a type of writing where a writer explores their thoughts, feelings, and observations about a personal experience. These essays are deeply subjective, personal, and introspective.
At its core, a reflective essay prompts you to answer the question: "How did a particular experience impact me?" Unlike narrative or descriptive writing, reflective essays are not just about recounting events. The goal is to analyze and interpret the event with your unique perspective and insights.
In addition, reflective essays do not require you to provide external evidence or validation, nor do you have to argue or prove something. However, it's important to follow a structured approach that allows you to organize your thoughts and engage your readers.
So what is that structured approach to writing a reflective essay? Read below.
How to Write a Reflective Essay?
Writing a reflective essay can become a lot easier if you follow a structured writing process. It allows you to effectively communicate your insights to your audience.
Here is a step-by-step process to start a reflective essay:
Step 1: Brainstorm and Choose a Topic
Begin by brainstorming a specific event, experience, or topic to reflect upon. It could be a personal experience, a book you've read, a class you've taken, or a significant life event.
Here are some helpful tips for choosing a topic:
- Think about your personal experiences and select a topic that resonates with you and offers room for reflection.
- Consider which one is most relevant to the purpose of your reflective essay.
- Choose a topic that holds personal significance and allows you to explore and convey meaningful insights.
Step 2: Reflect Deeply & Gather Your Thoughts
Unlike other types of academic essays, reflection papers do not demand research or gathering sources. The source material for the essay can be found in your own thoughts.
You can write down your thoughts in the form of a bulleted list, mind mapping, or other forms of note-taking. Take time to immerse yourself in the experience and consider its various aspects, including:
- Specific details, emotions, and observations from the event or experience.
- Your initial reactions and thoughts at the time. Recall how the experience affected you and what you learned.
You don’t have to write down complete sentences yet, you can simply note down keywords and phrases.
Step 3: Organize Your Thoughts
To ensure a coherent and logical essay, organize the points you’ve gathered in an outline. The outline should clarify these aspects:
- A clear thesis statement that indicates the main idea of the essay.
- Body paragraphs that explore different aspects of your reflection, organized in a logical sequence.
- Key points, experiences, and insights you want to include in each paragraph.
This is the last step of your pre-writing preparation. With an organized outline for your essay, you have everything you need to start writing.
Learn more about crafting efficient outlines in our reflective essay outline guide
Step 4: Write Your First Draft
With your outline in hand, start writing your first draft. Follow your organizational structure and express your thoughts and experiences clearly and concisely. As you write:
- Maintain a reflective and personal tone, as this is a chance to express your thoughts and emotions.
- Use specific examples, anecdotes, and details to illustrate your points.
- Ensure that each paragraph flows logically to the next, creating a smooth reading experience.
Don't worry too much about perfection at this stage; the first draft is about getting your thoughts on paper.
Step 5: Proofread and Revise
After completing your first draft, take a break before revising. Returning to your essay with fresh eyes will help you identify areas for improvement. During the revision process:
- Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
- Ensure clarity and coherence in your writing.
- Review the flow of your essay to ensure that it logically progresses from introduction to conclusion. Paragraphs should be connected to each other through transition phrases.
- Trim unnecessary or repetitive content and add details or insights where needed.
By following these five steps, you'll be well on your way to crafting a well-organized and impactful reflective essay.
Reflective Essay Structure
A reflective essay typically follows a standard structure that includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
Let’s delve into each of these parts here.
Reflective Essay Introduction
The introduction aims to draw the reader in by catching their interest and providing some context to the topic. A good introduction clearly indicates the subject and type of essay and tells the readers what to expect ahead.
Follow the tips below to craft an engaging introduction.
- Start with a hook or an intriguing opening sentence to pique the reader's interest. For example, you might begin with a thought-provoking quote, a relevant anecdote, or a rhetorical question.
- Provide context by briefly introducing the topic or the experience you will reflect upon. Mention any necessary background information to help the reader understand the context.
- End your introduction with a thesis statement . The thesis statement for a reflective essay can be flexible and can be more than one sentence long. It states the main point you want to convey, such as what you learned, gained, or how were you changed by the experience.
Reflective Essay Body Paragraphs
The body paragraphs of your essay are the heart of your reflection, where you dive deep into the experience and explore it from multiple angles. It's essential to organize your body paragraphs logically to maintain a coherent flow.
Here is how body paragraphs are organized in this type of paper:
First Body Paragraph
Provide a clear and detailed description of the experience or event you are reflecting upon. Set the stage by answering the basic questions: What, when, where, and who?
Share the most significant aspects of the experience. Consider the sensory details, the environment, the people involved, and other aspects. This will help your readers immerse themselves in the situation.
Second Body Paragraph
Once you’ve described the structure of your experience in detail, now is the time to move on to your thoughts, experiences, and observations.
Reflect on your immediate feelings and initial thoughts. Were you excited, anxious, or confused?
What did you notice about the people or surroundings? This section allows the reader to connect with your emotional journey, helping them understand the initial impact of the experience.
Third & Fourth Body Paragraphs
In the subsequent paragraphs, delve into in-depth reflection and analysis of your experience.
This is where you critically examine the experience, asking yourself why it was significant and how it impacted you. Consider the implications and connections to your personal growth, beliefs, or values and analyze the experience in the context of your life, education, or career.
You should also engage in critical reflection. For instance,
- What did you learn from the experience?
- How did it challenge or reinforce your existing beliefs?
- Did it change your perspective on certain issues?
Feel free to use multiple paragraphs for this reflection if needed. Each paragraph can explore different facets of your experience and offer a more comprehensive analysis.
Reflective Essay Conclusion
The conclusion of your reflective essay brings your reflection to a meaningful closure. It ties together the entire essay and aims to leave the reader with a lasting impression.
Here are some tips for writing a good conclusion:
- Summarize the key points you discussed in the body paragraphs without introducing new information. Reinforce the main message of your essay.
- Present the significance of the experience and its impact on your personal growth, beliefs, or understanding.
- Consider ending with a thought-provoking statement or a powerful insight to make it more impactful for the reader.
Reflective Essay Examples
Although you now know how to write a reflective essay, you should read some examples before you start writing. Reading the reflective essay samples below will help you get a feel of this type of writing.
Reflective Essay Sample - Reflections on Reading a Book
Reflective Essay Example - A Visit to a Historical Place
Tips for Writing Better Reflective Essays
Only following the writing steps can help you write a good essay. But to make it even better, you should do something extra. Here are some writing tips that can help you polish your reflective writing.
- Be Genuine and Authentic: Reflective essays thrive on authenticity. Share your true thoughts and feelings without embellishment or pretense. Readers appreciate sincerity and honesty in your reflections.
- Show, Don't Just Tell: Instead of merely stating your emotions or thoughts, demonstrate them through concrete examples and anecdotes. Let readers experience your reflection alongside you.
- Be Concise and Focused: Avoid unnecessary tangents or excessive details that may distract from your main reflection. Keep your essay focused on the central experience and its significance.
- Engage the Reader's Emotions: Touch on universal emotions and experiences that resonate with readers. Connecting on an emotional level can make your reflective essay more relatable and memorable.
- Seek Feedback: Don't hesitate to share your reflective essay with peers, mentors, or writing tutors. Their feedback can offer valuable insights and help you refine your writing.
- Reflect on Your Reflection: After completing your reflective essay, take a moment to reflect on your own reflection process. Consider what you've learned about yourself and your writing style. Use this insight to improve future reflective essays.
Reflective Essay Topics
Reflective essays can be written on a variety of topics. Here are some ideas you can write about:
- Engaging with Art: Reflect on your experience of reading a book, watching a documentary etc.
- A Life-Changing Journey: Reflect lessons learned from a trip or adventure.
- Mentorship and Learning: Reflect on the influence of a particular teacher, mentor, or role model on your life.
- Overcoming a Challenge: Write about a challenging experience or obstacle you've faced
- Life Milestones: Write about a major life event, such as graduating from school, getting married, or becoming a parent, etc.
- Career Transitions: Share your reflections on transitioning between careers or jobs.
- A Turning Point: Reflect on a specific moment or decision in your life that marked a turning point.
- Relationships: Explore the dynamics of a significant friendship or relationship.
- Ethical Dilemmas: Discuss a moral or ethical dilemma you faced and how you navigated it.
- Volunteer or Community Service: Share your experiences with community service.
These are just a few general ideas. With the help of these topics, you can ignite your creativity and choose the most meaningful topic for yourself.
Need more ideas to find a great topic for your reflective paper? Here are 100+ engaging reflective essay topics for your help!
Reflective essays serve as powerful instruments for self-discovery. It allows you to delve into your thoughts and experiences and share them with others in a meaningful way.
By following the steps, tips, and, examples above, you can explore the richness of your own experiences and engage others along the way. Trying to write a reflective essay can even become another one of your amazing experiences! So, embrace authenticity, engage your readers, and inspire those who read your words.
Need help writing a reflective essay? Don’t worry!
We understand the significance of these reflective journeys, and we've expert writers to assist you. At our reflective essay writing service , our team of writing professionals is dedicated to helping you craft insightful and impactful essays that meet your custom requirements.
So contact our essay writing service now!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you say i in a reflective essay.
Yes! First-person pronouns are a great way to give the reader insight into your life and thoughts. I, me, we - these words all have personal meaning. So, they should be used in a reflective essay.
What person is a reflective essay?
A reflective essay is a type of academic writing that can take on many different forms. You might be asked to write it in the first person or third person, and there's no one correct way to do so!
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General tips for academic reflections
An overview of key things to keep in mind for academic reflections.
Make sure you know what the assessor is asking for
Your main consideration when producing written or any kind of academic reflection is to know exactly what is expected of you. Therefore, you should ask your assessor what kind of language and structure they are expecting. With that in mind, the characteristics described here and in the sections on language and structure for academic reflections are what is often sought after.
Language of academic reflections
Structure of academic reflections
Using private reflections as foundations for academic reflections
Academic reflective writing is often used to evidence that you have done reflection. Therefore, it is often beneficial to first do a private reflection where you can be as informal and unstructured as you want, and then readapt that into a piece of academic writing.
By using a private reflection initially, you can ensure that you get the full learning opportunity without censoring yourself or being conscious of language, before deciding how best to present your reflections to your assessor. This is similar to figuring out what your argument is and taking notes before writing an essay, or to all the background work you do to solve a technical/mathematical problem that you do not include in your hand-in.
Just as developing your argument and working through each step of a problem can be essential for the final essay or hand-in, for some people doing a private reflection can be very helpful in writing an effective academic reflection. For others, writing their reflection in a formal and structured way from the outset helps them structure their thoughts.
Reflective Essay Examples and Samples
Reflecting on a chosen topic requires deep insight, making reflective essays difficult to write. Read our samples of reflective essays to gain a greater understanding of how to write one on your own.
Introduction to Reflective Essay: An Exploration of Self
A reflective essay is a type of personal writing that allows you to explore and document your thoughts, feelings, and insights about a particular subject or experience. Unlike other forms of academic writing, a reflective essay is more subjective and focuses more on your personal perspectives and interpretations. Writing a reflective essay can be a powerful way to articulate your growth and discoveries, making it an essential tool for creative and personal writing.
The Importance of Personal Experiences in Reflective Writing
Reflective writing revolves around personal experiences. It’s through such experiences that we learn, grow, and evolve. As such, personal experience plays a crucial role in reflective essays. A well-written reflective essay should vividly describe the experience, delve into the feelings it evoked, and critically analyze the impact it had on you. Reflective essays are not just a recounting of events, but a deep exploration of how those events influenced your outlook on life, reshaped your beliefs, or contributed to your personal growth.
Creative Expression: The Heart of a Reflective Essay
Creative writing goes hand in hand with reflective essays. The very nature of reflective essays – introspective, personal, and subjective – calls for creative expression. The creative door is wide open when writing a reflective essay, allowing you to experiment with different writing styles, narrative structures, and descriptive techniques. The goal here is to create an engaging and compelling narrative that captures your personal insights and emotional journey in the most authentic way possible.
Examining Growth Through Reflective Essays: A Journey of Self-Discovery
Reflective essays often serve as a mirror, reflecting your journey of growth. Whether it’s overcoming a personal challenge, learning a new skill, or undergoing a transformative life experience, these growth narratives form the backbone of reflective essays. When writing a reflective essay, it’s essential to not only describe the event or experience but also to delve into how it contributed to your growth as a person. How did it change you? What did you learn about yourself? How have you evolved as a result? Answering these questions can lead to profound insights and self-discovery.
Using Books and Literature as a Catalyst for Reflection
Books and literature often serve as a catalyst for reflection. A classic novel, a thought-provoking non-fiction book, or a compelling piece of poetry can provoke deep reflection and become the subject of a reflective essay. Whether it’s a book that changed your perspective, a character you deeply resonated with, or a theme that made you rethink your beliefs, reflective essays about literature can be a powerful way to explore your thoughts, feelings, and reactions to the written word.
Emotional Intelligence: Exploring Your Emotions in a Reflective Essay
Exploring your emotions forms an essential part of the reflective writing process. In fact, reflecting on our feelings and emotions is an exercise in emotional intelligence. A reflective essay offers a safe space to navigate complex emotions, understand emotional responses, and articulate emotional growth. Whether reflecting on a life-changing event or exploring your reactions to a particular book, it’s crucial to delve into your emotional journey. By understanding your feelings, you can gain deeper insights into your emotional patterns, personal triggers, and coping mechanisms.
- Understanding Emotional Responses: When writing a reflective essay, it’s crucial to delve deep into the emotions experienced during a particular event or circumstance. This could range from joy and excitement to confusion, disappointment, or even grief.
- Navigating Complex Emotions: Sometimes, experiences can elicit complex emotions that are hard to navigate. Reflective writing offers a safe space to untangle these emotions and gain a clearer understanding of your emotional state.
- Articulating Emotional Growth: A reflective essay allows you to document your emotional growth. Overcoming a difficult situation, managing negative emotions, or discovering a new perspective all signify emotional growth that can be articulated through reflective writing.
- Identifying Emotional Patterns: By consistently writing reflective essays, you can identify patterns in your emotional responses. This can help you better understand your reactions to similar situations in the future.
- Recognizing Personal Triggers: Reflective writing can help you identify personal triggers that prompt specific emotional responses. This awareness can equip you to manage these triggers more effectively.
- Developing Coping Mechanisms: Understanding your emotions through reflective writing can lead to the development of effective coping mechanisms. Whether it’s mindfulness, meditation, or simply taking a walk, recognizing what helps you manage your emotions is a significant step towards emotional intelligence.
Reflecting on College Class Experiences
College classes offer rich experiences that can provide plenty of material for a reflective essay. Perhaps it’s a creative writing class that opened up a new world of expression for you, or a challenging science class that pushed you to your limits. Reflecting on these experiences can help you understand your academic journey, recognize your learning style, and appreciate the knowledge you’ve gained. Discuss the skills you’ve acquired, the challenges you’ve faced, the friendships you’ve made, and how these experiences have contributed to your growth and development.
Time Management Reflections: Overcoming Procrastination
Reflecting on time management can lead to valuable insights about your work habits and productivity. Have you struggled with procrastination? Have you discovered effective time management skills? A reflective essay on this topic can discuss your past struggles, the strategies you’ve employed to overcome them, and the progress you’ve made. By examining your relationship with time, you can uncover patterns, identify areas for improvement, and devise strategies to enhance your productivity.
Reflective Essay Examples: Lessons and Insights
One of the best ways to understand reflective essays is by reading and analyzing examples. These examples can serve as a guide, offering insights into the structure, tone, and style of reflective writing. Whether it’s an essay reflecting on personal growth, a transformative travel experience, or a powerful book that left an impression, reflective essay examples can provide inspiration for your own writing.
In conclusion, reflective essays are a powerful form of personal and creative writing. They allow you to explore your experiences, emotions, and growth in a deeply personal way. Through reflective writing, you can gain valuable insights about yourself and your journey, making it a rewarding and transformative process.
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Introduction to Reflection
There are many ways to produce reflection in writing. Try using these examples to kick-start your reflective writing.
Open each drop-down to see a different reflective writing example and exercise.
The Six Minute Write (Bolton, 2014)
If you are being asked to write reflectively you may feel that you do not know where to begin. Bolton’s Six Minute Writing exercise is a useful way to help get you started.
Peter has just started a course to train to be a counsellor and his tutor is asking every student to reflect on their learning and the development of their interpersonal skills. Peter is unsure where to start as reflective writing is a new thing for him, so he decides to try the Six Minute Write.
“Well, I’ve never written anything like this before! When I wrote at school I was always told to be really careful – make sure your spelling and grammar are correct, don’t use abbreviations, make it sound formal. This feels quite liberating! But, is it any good? The tutor says ‘Just write what’s in your head’ so here goes.
Today we did our first role play exercises and how scary was that? I always knew that the course would involve this and I do enjoy talking with people, but trying out listening skills and asking open questions is all really difficult. I felt so nervous and forgot what to do. The people I was working with seemed so much better than me – I know I’ve got so much to learn it’s frightening. Will I ever be able to do this? I really don’t know, but I do know I’m going to try.”
Use Bolton’s (2014, p. 136) Six Minute Write exercise to begin any writing exercise, whether academic or reflective, personal or formal.
Here are Bolton’s pointers:
- Write for six minutes without stopping.
- Write whatever comes to mind and let your writing flow freely.
- Keep writing and do not pause to think too much about what you are writing.
- Do not pause to analyse what you have written, otherwise you will be tempted to write what you think you should write rather than what you want to write.
- Keep writing even if it does not make much sense to you.
- Do not worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar or jargon.
- Allow yourself to write anything.
- This is your writing and whatever you write is correct because it is yours. Remember, no-one else needs to read what you have written.
- Stop after six minutes and look at how much you have been able to write.
If we pay attention to how we think, we’ll soon notice that we are often in conversation with ourselves.
We have a kind of internal dialogue as we go about our day, making decisions (“The red top or the blue one?”) observing the world (“Beautiful day. But chilly. Where did I put my gloves?”) and maintaining self-awareness (“Oh goodness, she’s heading this way. You’re nervous? Interesting. Calm down. Be polite.”).
Reflective writing can take the shape of dialogue and be structured as a conversation with different aspects of yourself. We all have multiple identities (child, parent, student, employee, friend etc.) and each aspect of ourselves can take a different perspective on a situation.
Dialogic reflection harnesses these multiple perspectives to explore and inquire about ourselves in a certain situation, often when the purpose or outcome is unknown.
So now they’re encouraging us to try different types of reflective writing. I like the idea of this dialogical writing thing – feels like having a conversation with myself, so I think I’ll have a go. Not sure how it will pan out but I’m going to imagine talking with my organised self (OS) and my critical self (CS) and see how it goes.
OS – so doing really well at the moment, feeling pretty much on track with things and definitely on top.
CS – so how long do you think that will last? I know what you’re like! You always do this – think things are ok, sit back, relax and then get behind.
OS – do I? Umm… suppose you might be right…
CS – what do you mean, might be right?
OS – ok, you are right!
CS – and we know where this ends up, don’t we? Panic mode!
OS – and I need to avoid that. So, let’s think about what I can do. Look at the coming week and month and start planning!
Focus on an issue or concern that you have relating to your studies or practice. Imagine you are having a conversation with a friend about the issue because you want to get their perspective. Write a dialogue with “them” that explores your concerns. Raise any questions you’d like answered.
If need be, write another dialogue on the same issue with another “friend” to explore another perspective.
Once you’ve finished, re-read your conversation. Did your “friend” offer any new perspectives on the issue that hadn’t occurred to you before you began writing? Are any of these worth reflecting on further?
Driscoll (2007) What?, So what?, Now what?
Driscoll’s (2007) ‘What?’ model is a straightforward reflective cycle of 3 parts. Evolved from Borton’s (1970) Developmental Framework, it has 3 stages that ask us to consider What?, So what?, and Now what?
Step 1 – What? – involves writing a description of an event or an experience.
Step 2 – So what? – here we reflect on the event or experience and start to analyse selected aspects of it, considering why they were important and how they impacted the whole.
Step 3 – Now what? – a range of proposed action points are devised following the experience, focusing on what has been learned.
Dan is training to be a nurse in elderly care and wants to reflect on the experiences he is gaining on his placement. Dan decides to use the questions in Driscoll’s model to help him to begin to analyse what he is learning.
Step 1 – What?
Today I was observing an experienced community nurse change a dressing on a man’s leg that is badly infected. The man was nervous and became very distressed – he has had dressings replaced regularly and knows that the process is very painful. I felt awful about causing him more pain. The community nurse seemed very calm and spoke to him in a reassuring way. She asked him if he would like some pain relief and he said yes. She sat with him for ten minutes to make sure that the pain relief was working and spoke with him about his grandson’s visit that he was looking forward to at the weekend. This definitely seemed to put him at ease.
Step 2 – So what?
She made it all look so easy. How would I cope if I had to do this? As a nurse I am meant to relieve pain not cause it. She focused on the patient while I focused on myself.
Step 3 – Now what?
I learned a lot from the community nurse. She was very caring but firm. She knew the man’s dressing needed to be changed but did everything in a very calm and kind way. She distracted him and helped him to relax. These are all strategies that I can try in the future if I have to do this. Nursing isn’t only about my clinical skills; my interpersonal skills are vital, as is compassion and understanding for my patients.
Driscoll has formulated some useful questions to help us to use the model effectively, including:
Step 1 – What? – how did I react and what did others do who were involved?
Step 2 – So what? – do I feel troubled in any way, and if so, how?
Step 3 – Now what? – how can I change my approach if I face a similar situation again and what are my main learning points? What different options are there for me?
Write some notes about an experience you have had recently where you feel you have learned a lot. Can you use the stages of Driscoll’s cycle to develop this into a short reflection?
Note: Driscoll’s model is useful when you are new to professional practice and it seems like there is so much to learn. In particular, the question ‘Do I feel troubled in any way?’ is useful as our feelings can act as a prompt to deeper thinking. However, after a while you may find that you want to explore at a more complex level and move on to other approaches. It’s important to allow space for your reflective skills to develop in the same way as your professional skills.
Some small scale reflective questions :
- What were 3 things that went well today/this week? How do you know?
- What was a situation today/this week where I could have done better? How?
- What was your biggest challenge today/this week? How did you overcome it?
- What was the predominant feeling you had today/this week? Why?
- What made you happy/sad/frustrated/angry/etc today/this week? Can you find some way of having more or less of the identified aspects?
Some larger scale reflective questions :
- Am I optimising my time, energy and performance according to my values, goals and objectives?
- Am I making the most of opportunities available to me? Am I working effectively within any fixed restrictions? Where there are barriers, am I identifying them and tackling or circumventing them where possible?
- Do my values, goals and objectives still align with each other? Is this reflected in how I am spending my time?
- Are my goals still the right ones to deliver on my values? Should/Can I refine or revise the strategies I am using for fulfilling my values and goals?
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How to start a reflective essay + Introduction Examples
When you are assigned a reflective essay, one of the hardest things to do is to come up with a good introduction. A good introduction sets the tone for your essay and engages your reader. It is important to make your introduction interesting so that your reader will want to keep reading. In this introduction writing guide, we will discuss 5 steps in writing an engaging introduction for your reflective essay!
How to Start a Reflective Essay
Before you start writing a reflective essay, it is important to understand what this type of paper actually is and what it should include.
A reflective essay is a piece of writing that explores your personal thoughts and experiences on a certain subject. In most cases,reflective essays focus on recent events or experiences and how they have affected you.
Personal reflection essay
Reflective summary essay, reflective essay outline, how to write a nursing reflective essay, writing a reflective analysis essay, how to write a reflective journal.
When writing about past events, it is important to reflect on how these experiences have shaped your current beliefs and opinions. It is also helpful to consider how these events may have impacted your future choices.
By understanding the purpose of a reflective essay, you will be able to develop an effective and well-organized introduction for your reflective paper.
Here are 4 steps in writing great reflective essay introduction paragraphs:
1. Introduce your topic
Before you can start writing your reflective essay, you need to have something to reflect on. That something is usually an event, a memory, or an experience. Once you have something to work with, you can start introducing your topic. Introducing your topic means more than just saying what it is. It also means giving some context and background information. For example, if you’re writing about a time when you got lost in the city, you might want to provide some information about the city itself. What is it like? What was the weather like that day? How did you feel? By providing this context, you give your readers a better understanding of what happened and why it was significant to you. With that said, there are a few thing yous should avoid doing in your introduction:
- -Don’t give too much detail. You don’t want to bore your reader or ruin the element of surprise.
- -Don’t provide too much background information. As we said, you need to provide some context, but you don’t want to write a whole history lesson.
- -Don’t make it too long. An introduction should be around one paragraph, or around five to seven sentences.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when introducing your topic. Now let’s move on to the next tip!
2: Make a Thesis Statement
Every essay needs a thesis statement, and a reflective essay is no different. A thesis statement is a one-sentence summary of your essay. It tells the reader what your essay is about and sets the tone for your writing. For example, if you’re writing about a time when you got lost in the city, your thesis statement might be something like this: “That day, I learned that it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings.”
Your thesis statement should be clear, concise, and easy to understand. It should also be arguable, which means that someone could disagree with it. If you’re having trouble coming up with a good thesis statement, try this exercise:
- -Write down everything you want to say about your topic in one sentence.
- -Now, look at that sentence and see if you can make it more concise.
- -Finally, ask yourself if someone could disagree with your statement. If they could, then you have a good thesis statement!
If you can’t seem to come up with a good thesis statement, don’t worry. This is something that you can always revise later on. Now let’s move on to the next tip!
3: Use a Hook
A hook is a way to grab your reader’s attention and make them want to keep reading. There are a few different ways that you can do this, but some of the most common reflective essay hooks include quotes, questions, and statistics .
For example, let’s say you’re writing about a time when you got lost in the city. You could start your essay with a quote like this: “The first rule of thumb is never to go anywhere without knowing where you’re going.” This quote is from the book How to Get Lost by Margaret Atwood. It’s a short and attention-grabbing way to start your essay.
You could also start with a question like this: “Have you ever felt like you’re the only one who knows where you’re going?” This is a good hook because it’s relatable and it will make your readers want to know more.
Finally, you could start with a statistic like this: “According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 60% of people have felt lost at least once in their lives.” This is a good hook because it’s interesting and it will make your readers want to know more.
4. Use descriptive language to set the tone for your essay.
The language that you use in your essay introduction should be reflective of the tone that you want to set. For example, if you’re writing about a time when you got lost in the city, you might want to use descriptive language to set the tone of your essay. You could say something like this: “I was lost in a sea of people, all moving in different directions.” This paints a picture for the reader and sets the tone for your essay.
If you’re not sure what kind of language to use, try this exercise:
- Read over your introduction and highlight any words or phrases that are particularly strong or vivid.
- Now, look at the tone of your essay and see if the language you’ve used reflects that tone.
- If it doesn’t, try to find a way to make it more reflective of the tone you want to set.
Remember, the language you use in your introduction should be reflective of the tone that you want to set for your essay.
5. Create an outline.
Before you begin writing a reflective essay, it’s important to create an outline. This will help you organize your thoughts and structure your essay in a way that is easy to follow.
Here’s a basic outline for a reflective essay:
- Body paragraphs
Now you can start writing your reflective paper based on your teacher’s requirements. Let’s look at a few examples on how to begin a reflective essay effectively.
Reflective essay introduction examples
Here are eight reflective essay introduction paragraph examples that you can use as inspiration for your own writing:
Reflective Essay Introduction Paragraph Example 2:
Topic: A time when you faced a challenge:
“ It was the middle of winter and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball under my blankets. But I had a paper due for my English class, and no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t make myself start writing. I was about to give up when… ”
Topic: A time when you were proud of yourself:
“ I remember the first time I ever rode a bike. I was so excited, but also really scared. My dad held onto the back of the seat and ran next to me as I pedaled my legs as fast as I could. And then, suddenly, I was riding all by myself. ”
Reflective Essay Introduction Paragraph Example 3:
Topic: A time when you had to make a difficult choice:
“ It was my senior year of high school and I had been accepted to both my dream school and my safety school. I didn’t know what to do. Both schools were amazing, but in different ways. After a lot of thought, I finally made my decision… ”
Reflective Essay Introduction Paragraph Example 4:
Topic: A time when you learned something new:
“ I remember the first day of my cooking class. I was so excited to learn how to cook, but also really nervous. I didn’t know if I would be able to keep up with the other students. But from the very first lesson, I was hooked. ”
Reflective Essay Introduction Paragraph Example 5:
Topic: A time when you failed:
“ I’ll never forget the time I failed my driving test. I was so confident that I was going to pass, but I made a silly mistake and ended up failing. It was really frustrating, but I’m glad that I didn’t give up. ”
Reflective Essay Introduction Paragraph Example 6:
Topic: A time when you were disappointed:
“ I remember the first time I didn’t get the grade I wanted on a test. I had studied so hard, but I still didn’t do as well as I wanted. I was really disappointed in myself, but my mom told me that it wasn’t the end of the world. ”
In conclusion, the introduction paragraph of a reflective essay is very important. You need to make sure that you use descriptive language, set the tone for your essay, and give your readers a good sense of what the essay will be about.
By following these 5 tips, you can write an engaging reflective essay introduction that will set the stage for your entire essay.
Reflective essay examples, reflective essay topics & ideas, process essay introduction, related guides.
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How to Write a Reflective Essay: Definition, Outline, Examples
A reflective essay is a piece of writing in which an author uses personal life experiences to either teach a lesson or give life advice.
The writer usually starts from an initial point and progresses using thorough details from the event(s), eventually bringing out some sort of conclusion to the story. The author's main task in such texts is to explain how those life experiences influenced their lives. To make things clear, a reflection essay aims to express how the progression of events influenced one's thoughts and feelings about certain life events and what quality lessons they took away from those events!
Experts from our essay writing service have prepared all the necessary information for you, which will surely help you write a reflective essay worth the high grade. Alternatively, you can buy essay in advance to avoid any unnecessary stress!
What Is A Reflective Essay?
A simple reflective essay definition is a paper that dwells on the author's experiences or opinions on chosen issues. Yet, to fully define reflective paper, one needs to learn the primary types of writing and their specific features. For example, at first glance, an analytical essay may resemble a reflective one. However, papers of the first type analyze issues without associating them with the writer's personality.
In its turn, every reflective essay differs from other types due to personal pronouns and real-life examples related to the writer's own experience - this is exactly what makes an essay reflective. So, next time you ask, "what is a reflective essay?", remember that reflective essay writing is an essential part of many college disciplines and job interviews. Regardless of the writing circumstances, the format of reflective essay suffers few alterations.
While working on a format for a reflective essay, the author explores different situations and uncovers their views on the issues and situations. Due to its nature, a reflective essay may look like a flurry of speculation. Generally, writings of this type form two subgroups depending on the focal points.
- Personal experience-based
Such writings usually reveal real-life facts about the writer. The key to success is making the author's image and related stories relatable to the target audience to engage the readers. Here, the author must back all arguments and main points up with relevant examples.
- Opinions on literary characters, public persons, events, etc.
Reflective essays of this subtype also allocate a lot of space for personal opinions, ideas, and reflections. Yet, the focus of the study here shifts from the author himself to literary characters and events.
For example, the title My attitude towards Holden Caulfield is a perfect example of a reflective essay dedicated to the literary character. A reflective essay format is probably the only essay where you can avoid any normal academic writing style. Of course, not unless your teacher requires you to use MLA or APA format.
- You should use Times New Roman, 12 font, and double-spaced.
- 1" margins.
- All of your titles must be centered.
- The top right of every page includes your last name and the page number.
- The header on your paper should have your name, the professor's name, the course number, and the date.
- The last page must include a Works Cited.
- Have a header on top of every page.
- Make sure every page is numbered in the top right corner.
- Your essay must be divided into four parts: title page, Abstract, Main Body, and References.
How To Write A Reflective Essay?
- As mentioned above, topics suggested for this type of writing differ depending on the writing circumstances. Job seekers often need to write personal reflective essays to make employers consider their candidature. Children write reflective essays about their families, hobbies, and summer holidays at school. Define your purpose and target audience.
- Depending on the TA, pick the most suitable writing style and think of the relevant linguistic means to bring your idea to the readers.
- There are no limitations on what you can write. Yet, to maintain the smooth flow of the text, the writer needs to see the ultimate goal. What it would be is up to you: a thought-provoking story, a mere reminiscence, a piece that aims to make people cry, or even a warning.
- Read the instructions carefully. Some may come in handy for writing a preliminary plan.
- Thinking about how to write a reflective essay, remember that no particular chain of logic is required for a high grade. What counts is the ability to write your thoughts, stick to the main point, and notice life around you. Do not force yourself to follow the standard introduction-body-conclusion pattern. Some reflective essay titles are synonymous with thesis statements. They may even reveal the conclusions the author dwells on in the text.
- Do not overload the text with excessive explanations and petty details unrelated to the ultimate goal.
- Those who have trouble when thinking about how to start a reflective essay need to remember two tips:
- Write the introduction last when the rest of the text is ready. This trick could help avoid clumsy unengaging sentences telling the readers as little as nothing about the matter.
- If the text seems incoherent, try crossing out the first sentences of each abstract idea. Experience shows people tend to use long lead-ins in reflective essays to make the text appear more substantial.
Remember that this type of essay requires a creative approach. For example, you may include your conclusion in the last body paragraph or end it with a cliffhanger. You could keep the suspense or reveal everything at the very beginning.
Reflective Essay Outline
The order of abstracts in an essay is usually reduced to three main parts. Yet, just as stated above, in this type of writing, a traditional formula may suffer significant changes:
The introduction should intrigue the reader so that they can't refrain from reading the rest. Writers achieve this goal through the use of contradictions, ironic instances, and suspense. A great example is a reflective essay outline works throughout the paper and is an excellent approach to organizing your ideas. The order of abstracts in an essay is usually reduced to three main parts, the same as in other essays. Yet, just as stated above, in this type of writing, a traditional formula may suffer significant changes:
Also, the introduction should grab the reader's attention so they can't refrain from reading the rest. Writers achieve this goal through contradictions, ironic instances, and suspense. A great example is " My first college frat party."
My friends invited me to my first college frat party this weekend, and the things I saw and experienced were just unbelievable.
That sentence is an amazing example of a captivating reflective essay introduction. In one sentence, you explained to the reader what you would be talking about and made it sound interesting. The first few sentences of your introduction should always contain a small glimpse of the big picture, which you shall reveal in the body paragraph of the essay. The final sentence of the intro is the core point of your entire paper and is called the reflective essay thesis, which will be based on the most significant moment. In this sentence, you clearly state the effects of the catalytic event and the overall significance of those changes. The thesis statement will be proven in the body paragraphs!
The body of the text should dwell on the matter introduced by the reflective essay thesis. The first problem students encounter when writing such essays is complete freedom of thought expression. It is easy to lose the chain of logic and start jumping from one idea to another. So, a practical suggestion – stick to the chosen narration line. Or better, make a separate structural plan for the body paragraphs.
There could be as many body paragraphs as you want. Depending on the topic, the text may, for example, have a one-sentence introduction and a hidden conclusion, but the body part will always be the biggest one. In this middle part, use as many opinion-showing words as possible. Introduce arguments to support your position or reinforce descriptions. Argumentative points may appear in a few examples, facts, phenomena of public life, events, real-life situations and experiences, scientific evidence, references to scholars and scientists, etc. Do not use too many examples unless you want to sound unsure of your views. One piece of evidence would suffice for a personal reflective essay. Two reinforcing examples will be enough for reflective essays, engaging elements of literary analysis or speculating about various phenomena. A reflective essay example with three or more sample facts will seem overloaded.
After the frat party I went to this weekend, it became evident that almost every other college student can’t handle a drink whatsoever.
Up top, you will see a good body paragraph intro. The topic sentence of that paragraph already explains what you will be discussing in the paragraph. Like in the introductory paragraph, the first sentence in your body paragraphs should excite the reader to read the entire story. During the body paragraphs, give vivid detail and examples to give the essay real-life features. In other words, put the reader into the story by giving relatable examples of situations and meticulously describing minor details. The more creative each sentence is and the more it captivates the reader with its literary style, the higher the excitement and interest level of the reader will be.
The conclusion as a separate element is not mandatory for reflective essays. Yet, make it concise if you decide upon the essay structure that requires final notes to back up the body part of the text. The main requirement for the conclusion: it should not be purely formal. This part should organically supervise the arguments presented in the body paragraphs. Looking for a reflective essay sample on the internet, you will most likely find examples featuring a full-blown conclusion. Of course, you could use them as templates for essay writing. Still, if you want to impress your readers and make them think about your work more, do not blatantly feed personal observations to them. Make people read between the lines and see your ideas and emotions in the body part of the text instead.
After looking back at that frat party experience, I have come to the conclusion that I will not support underage drinking.
As you may already know, your conclusion is where you sum up everything you have been speaking about in your essay. Then, using the information and events described in the body paragraph, bring everything back to a final concluding point in which you briefly reinstate how the experiences regarding this event molded and shaped your body physically and or mentally. Lastly, you should inform the reader of your final opinion on the topic.
Reflective Essay Topics
A reflective essay is, without a doubt, one of the only essays that this essay is all about you and your experiences. Therefore, write my essays service professionals have prepared some ideas that could help you come up with a few good reflective essay topic examples.
1. My first volunteer experience.
2. What strengthens my self-confidence?
3. Reflections on how I overcame life's difficulties.
4. What I learned from a joint trip with my friends.
5. First experience as a public speaker.
6. What traits in people discourage a friendly attitude?
7. A time when I knew it was depression.
8. White lies. The one time I had to lie to make life easier for my friend.
9. My first month in therapy.
10. My favorite book in childhood.
1. What role do family traditions play in my life?
2. What is a perfect family?
3. Meeting my partner's parents for the first time.
4. Story of how I separated from my parents.
5. Losing a loved one and how to cope with it.
6. Taking care of elderly relatives.
7. Relationships with younger siblings.
8. What holidays are most celebrated in your family?
9. Have you ever run away from home?
10. The last time my parents and I went on vacation.
1. A bike ride in the mountains.
2. The weekend I spent by the lake.
3. What thoughts do sunsets invoke in my mind?
4. From a seed to a tree. My experience in gardening.
5. Pondering nature's beauty during morning power walks.
6. Out in the wilderness. My first camping trip.
7. What steps do I take every day to protect the planet?
8. How living in a village changed my perception of nature.
9. Reflections on my first encounter with a wild animal.
10. Five laws regarding environmental protection I find most efficient.
Significant Places Topics
1. A first visit to the capital city.
2. The first foreign country I visited.
3. A place described in a book that I want to visit.
4. Beautiful places I visited as a child.
5. Following the historical paths. A visit to old battlefields.
6. My family's summerhouse and childhood nostalgia.
7. Places that bring up memories of the first love.
8. Visiting my grandparents' house.
9. My Alma Mater.
10. The city I want to move to after graduation.
Topics about Hobbies
1. Why are hobbies important in children's lives?
2. How I turned my hobby into a full-time job.
3. Reflections on how my hobby made me closer to my parents.
4. One whole day, I dedicated myself to my hobby.
5. Can a hobby bring both joy and money?
6. How university gave me a new hobby.
7. Reading comic books.
8. How I learned to play guitar in one year.
9. Why I had to abandon my hobby.
10. How I used hobbies to reinforce my resume.
Crafting a reflective essay involves thoroughly going through the writing process. First, let's look at the given examples:
A Good Essay Shows The Following:
The essay showed the reader the "big picture" that you, as an author, tried to show. Focus on showing how your reflection on the event brought about new changes to your mentality or physicality!
Your essay has an overall "cause and effect" notion. Something happened to you, and from that experience, you have changed.
Throughout the essay, you have shown the reader that you can look at your actions from an outside perspective.
Preferably have a super interesting reflective essay topic. It should be unique, something you won't read or hear about often.
A Bad Essay Fails To Show The Following:
The essay has failed to show the reader the author's "big picture."
Your reflective essay does not have even the slightest hint of a cause and effect essay.
Throughout the essay, you failed to show the reader that you can look at your actions and decisions from another perspective.
Reflective Essay Examples
Here we prepared reflective essay examples that will inspire your writing process!
"My first day at work after graduation"
To grasp the idea of how all the tips above work when combined, our team prepared examples. For example, one of the reflective essay samples to consider would be the following one:
Agitation. Excitement. Shock. Anger. Melancholy. Relief. Gratefulness. This list hardly covers half of the emotional spectrum I experienced on my first day at my job.
As soon as I graduated from the University with a technical degree, I realized that people interest me more than machines. I passed a career aptitude test and found out that working with people suits my personality type better than dealing with mechanisms. So, right before graduation, I entered the HR-related internship program at a bank. In a month, I got my diploma, put it on a shelf, and got a job as an assistant in the personnel department of a big IT company. This area caught my interest after watching one too many TV series.
And here it is – my first day. The air of importance and intricate business processes was so thick that I thought I could touch it. Strangers, most of them older than I was, seemed all-knowing and experienced. Excitement filled me to the top of my head. It was hard to keep a serious face while everything inside my head was shouting: "I did it! I am a big-shot HR manager!". Finally, I got my first job. It got everything a young green manager wanted – a comfy chair, a set of office supplies, and a computer screen that took half of the desk. Pure happiness and bliss enveloped by a naïve soul.
At a new job, everyone wants to show their best traits. You are ready to jump out of your skin to endear yourself to your boss and colleagues when it is your first job. Unfortunately, this approach puts immense pressure on the new employee.
At first, everything went well. My new boss gave me a pretty simple task, and I finished it in just a couple of hours. To my way of thinking, it should have been my first success. While I was walking across the room to show the result of my work, I painted a picture in my head where Mr. Smith (my boss) shook my hand and told me that I was a capable manager and so on. Should I tell you that nothing of the kind happened at that moment?
Mr. Smith did not share my enthusiasm toward the presentation I made. Long story short, instead of the expected praise, it received scads of criticism, and I returned to my desk sobbing. And at first, I didn't even know how to react.
A young HR manager named Tina from our department came up to me and offered to get some air. It was a real shock and a pleasant surprise. She was nice to me and explained that our boss was busy developing new recruitment plans for the upcoming meeting with the CEO, and my presentation was a part of the project. She said that it did contain mistakes Mr. Smith pointed out, but there was nothing to cry over. Later, she helped me fix it, and then I realized that justified criticism could become a stimulus for growth.
I accepted criticism and turned it into a new skill. From that day on, I started seeing the different approaches to work typical for top and middle managers.
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How to Write a Reflective Essay Outline: Tips And Example
09 Dec 2021
❓What is a Reflective Essay Outline?
📑Reflective Essay Outline Structure
✍️Reflective Essay Format and Style
📄Outline Example for an Essay
When you are asked to write a reflective essay, it might feel like an unusual task. After all, what do they normally reflect? Well, your own beliefs and ideas! However, the difficulty of such an assignment lies in the fact that you need to explore your own ideas on a topic so thoroughly that you can then write about them at length.
Even though it can be challenging, especially when writing specific reflective essay topics for university students , they are also a great opportunity to showcase your best writing skills. Such papers require you as the writer to go beyond just stating your ideas and providing evidence for them.
In order to create a truly exceptional piece of work, you will need to put in some additional effort and planning. So, here’s how you can write a reflection essay template and knock it out of the park.
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What is a Reflective Essay Outline?
Writing a reflective essay can be a difficult and challenging process, but it's also a very rewarding one. In order to write a successful one, you need to be able to articulate your thoughts and feelings about your experiences. The best way to do this is to use a reflective essay outline template.
An outline for a reflective essay is a plan for your academic paper, where you structure and break down the main points into logically ordered paragraphs in order to write it more efficiently. This is like a skeleton for your future work, which makes it easier and faster to write.
It helps to prevent writer’s block and organize your ideas. Whether you’re a beginner needing to write college admission essay or a seasoned essayist, having an outline is always a solid starting point.
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What is the Best Reflective Essay Outline Structure?
A reflective essay template is like a roadmap. It helps you organize your thoughts and plan what you're going to say in advance. It also makes it easier to write your paper because you know exactly what you're going to include in each section.
A typical reflective essay format includes three parts:
- Introduction: Introduce your topic.
- Body: Explore your topic in depth.
- Conclusion: Summarize your thoughts and reflect.
What Should be Included in the Introduction?
The introduction should begin with a hook that grabs the reader's attention. This can be a rhetorical question, a quote, or a shocking statistic. The goal is to get the reader engaged and interested in the material.
After the hook, the introduction should give some background information on the topic. This can help to provide context for the reader. The introduction should also include a strong thesis statement. This will be the main idea of your essay, and it should be clear and concise.
The introduction should not include any unnecessary details. The goal is to give the reader a general idea of what the paper will be about. Ensure that the introduction is engaging and makes the reader want to continue reading.
What Should be in the Body Paragraphs of a Self Reflective Essay?
In general, the body paragraphs should contain supporting evidence that backs up your thesis statement. This evidence can come in the form of quotes, statistics, real-life examples, or anything else that supports your claim. In addition to proof, your body paragraphs should also include analysis.
This is where you discuss how the evidence supports your thesis in the introduction and explain what it all means. Finally, each body paragraph should have a concluding sentence that sums up everything you've discussed and drives home your main point. By following this reflection paragraph template, you can ensure that your writing is well-organized and your argument is clear and convincing.
How to Write a Reflective Essay Conclusion?
When it comes to writing a conclusion, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind. First and foremost, you need to make sure that your conclusion is reflective of the rest of your essay. This means that it should maintain the same tone and style.
Secondly, your conclusion should be concise and to the point. You don't want to ramble on or include any new information. And finally, your final paragraph should leave the reader with something to think about. An excellent way to do this is to end with a question or a call to action.
If you are struggling with writing a reflective essay, one great solution would be to use an essay writing company . They can provide you with great support and guidance in developing your outline and structure for your reflective essay. PapersOwl is a reliable and trustworthy essay writing company that can help you with all your reflective essay needs.
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How Should One Choose a Reflective Essay Format and Style?
If you are working on or looking for process analysis essay ideas and are struggling to decide which referencing style to use, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First and most important is to get to know what your professor or institution requires.
If no style is specified, you can ask your professor for guidance. The second thing that you need to check is what format is most commonly used in your field of study. For example, if you are studying sciences, you will likely use the APA style. If you are studying humanities, you will likely use the MLA style.
Third, what style is most comfortable for you to use? This is a personal preference, and you should choose the style that you feel most comfortable with. Remember, whichever style you choose, you must be consistent throughout your writing.
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How to Write a Reflective Essay Template: Example
A self reflection essay outline will help you better understand the purpose of what you're writing. If you're struggling, it is even possible to find a template in many academic writing textbooks or online, where you can pay someone to write an essay for you .
A compelling reflection essay format can be challenging and difficult to write, which is why there is a university essay writing service available anytime you need help. But it's also a very rewarding one, in which you are free to articulate your thoughts and feelings about your experiences. The best way to do this is to use a reflection paper outline template.
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8 Tips For Writing A Great Reflective Essay (With Examples)
Memories, hopes, disappointments, and curiosity run through your life.
By writing a reflective essay, you can capture some of these ephemeral emotions and make sense of who you are. Below, I share eight tips (and a few examples) that will help you do it in a better way. You may have to write a reflective essay as a part of an academic assignment or a college paper. Or perhaps you want to create it for yourself and never show it to anyone. Regardless of the reason, after reading this article, you will hopefully become better at it. They helped a lot of students over the years, so you may check them out.
Here’s how to write a great reflective essay:
1. first, what is a reflective essay.
A reflective essay is a piece of writing in which you analyze your personal experience, reflect on how it changed your life, and what conclusions for the future can you draw from what you’ve learned. It’s a “know thyself” type of essay. The goal here is getting self-knowledge, by stopping to think about your memories, your values, and where you want to go from the present moment onward. By writing your thoughts down, you pursue some kind of deeper truth, about yourself and the world.
2. The power of writing introspectively
Many great men and women (like Charles Darwin or Frida Kahlo ) had a habit of keeping a journal. This seems to be forgotten these days as we record everything through our mobile devices. But the habit of introspective writing and journaling helps you get in touch with your inner self and even improves your mental health. The reflective essay serves a similar purpose. It lets you search for meaning in your life and lets you discover the underlying causes of your actions.
“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard
3. How do you start your essay?
You may start with an introduction of experience, an event, or a memory on which you’ll reflect. If your topic is “a life-changing incident you had when you were a child,” you could start with: I used to live on a sunny farm with my parents and grandparents when I was young. A few days after I turned six, something happened that would alter the course of my life forever. I’m fifty-two as I’m writing this…
This beginning has certain elements that make it effective:
- Introducing the setting and putting the experience in context.
- Hooking the reader by building curiosity and a story.
Here’s another way to start (this excerpt is taken from Didion’s “ On self-respect ”): Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one has stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself. In reflective writing, you don’t have to follow any strict guidelines or rules. Follow your heart, put some emotion into it, and you’ll create something of value for yourself and others. Start at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end – as long as it’s coherent, you’ll be fine.
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” – Ralph Ellison
4. Learn how to structure your essay
In terms of length, it all depends on your assignment, but usually, the reflective essay has between 300 and 700 words . It has a rather informal structure and the use of language. After all, you’re drilling into your personal experiences, and often, this requires a poetic turn of the phrase. You’re more than welcome to use a wide range of advanced vocabulary .
In this part, you set the tone for your reflection. You implicitly or explicitly say what will you reflect on, and what prompted you to do that. If you’re writing an academic paper , you’ll have to be more direct and for example, say: “What follows, are my reflections on what I’ve learned about life during the first year of college”.
In this part, you talk about your actual experiences, memories, and important events in your life. But the purpose is not just to say what happened – that’s a descriptive essay’s job. The true goal here is to ponder the significance of your experiences and think about how they changed you and what you’ve learned from them. Here you can share concrete examples of changes that took place in your life.
Here, you sum up your essay and leave your audience with a final thought. Look ahead into the future and write about how your experiences are going to affect your life from now on. What’s the direction you’re going to take? What is there to look ahead to? You may also look backward and see how different you were in the past, compared to now. “I think it’s good for a person to spend time alone. It allows them to discover who they are and to figure out why they are always alone.” – Amy Sedaris
5. Create an outline for your essay
As with most writing assignments , the work begins with ideation and then creating some sort of outline . Here’s a simple process you can use to get everything ready before you start writing: a) Scan your mind in search of powerful experiences, meaningful memories, and thoughts about your past. This will serve as a raw material from which you’ll sculpt a piece of prose. b) Consider the attractiveness of your topic from the reader’s point of view. You certainly don’t want to bore anyone, so pick something interesting, but important. c) Organize your essay and divide it into a couple of paragraphs. Each paragraph should contain one important idea. d) Decide in which sequence you would like to share your ideas. Put some logic and chronology behind it. e) Jot down any side notes included in the essay. It’s always better to have an overabundance of material.
“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” – C.G. Jung
6. The essay-writing process
The best piece of advice on that is to avoid cliches. It might be hard to do this at first, but decide to speak your truth. Talk about things and feelings unique to you and your life. It’s easy to regurgitate what someone else had said before because it’s a safe territory. Your goal is to open doors to which only you have the keys.
Once you have the idea, you can follow a simple process:
- Write the first draft as quickly as you can (no editing or looking back here)
- Reorganize the first draft if necessary
- Edit for clarity (throw out everything unnecessary)
- Accept that it will not be perfect, and publish it (or keep it to yourself)
7. How to pick the right topic for your essay
If you’re writing an assignment, you’ll probably receive the prompt from your professor. If that’s the case, follow it diligently. This may be something like: a) Reflect on what you learned during your first year of high school. b) Think about your favorite book and how it changed your life . c) How did your writing skills change over the years? And why? Or it might be something really specific like Write a two-page reflection paper on the Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Here, it’s not only about your personal experience, but about your interaction with a specific text, event, play, or movie and the effect it had on you. But what if you want to write an essay on your own? Which topic would you choose then? First, pick something meaningful to you. Second, pick something that you know well. Third, pick something that you want to explore and get deep into.
Here’s some more inspiration in the area of topics:
- What was the hardest thing you’ve ever done and how did it change you?
- How has your relationship with your parents changed over the years?
- What did you use to do a lot in the past, but aren’t doing now?
- What was the most creative act you’ve ever done?
- What was your favorite game or toy when you were a child?
- What did you want to become when you were small?
- How did you overcome your limits?
- What was your biggest failure and how did you come back on your feet?
- What are the things from the past that are still haunting you?
- What gives you the biggest sense of joy in life?
- What is your passion and how has it shaped your life?
Reflection on life and meaning:
- What is the meaning of friendship?
- What is to be done with the time you have in your life?
- What are the values that make up a good life?
- Is it possible to find the ultimate truth about anything?
- Can you know thyself?
- What should every human do during their lifetime?
Reflection on events:
- What was your most exciting trip and why?
- Have you ever had a mystical or psychedelic experience?
- How did World War 2 change the collective psyche of humanity?
- What was your favorite musical concert and why?
- Was there any rite of passage you went through? What was the meaning of it?
You may also consider other great essay topics submitted by the users of Quora.
“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” – Charles Dickens
8. Learn from the masters
Montaigne was the father of the essay as a literary form. He was the first writer to use informal tone, colloquial language, and rather prosaic themes to get to the deeper truth about human nature.
I recommend you check his essays for inspiration, along with other masterworks:
- The Essays – by Montaigne
- Shooting an Elephant – by George Orwell
- On Self Respect – by Joan Didion
- Meditations – by Marcus Aurelius (it’s a philosophical work, rather than an essay, but the quality of “Meditations” is too high to be overlooked).
- Once more to the lake – EB White
And here are a few books filled with great reflective essays:
- A room of one’s own – Virginia Woolf
- Walden – Henry David Thoreau
- A collection of essays – George Orwell
- Arguably – Christopher Hitchens
- Consider the Lobster and Other Essays – David Foster Wallace
And here you may find a huge list of 450+ essay books on Goodreads.
“Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.” – Albert Einstein
Example #1 of a reflective essay:
The misgivings about the high school football.
Football (soccer) was on the pedestal during my high school years in Poland. You were not judged by the color of your skin (because everyone was roughly the same color) nor by the contents of your character. The worth of a human being is measured by the ability to score goals. Each player had to find their niche in the dominant hierarchy of the pitch. It all started with the selection of players. The gym master would choose two captains at the beginning of the match, and they would choose their teammates. One by one, the best players got picked, and as we went down the line, we were left with the wretched souls, the worst, the smallest guys, or the fat ones, whose self-esteem was shattered from the beginning, simply because they were picked last. But there was a ladder within a ladder. Some players, perhaps in the lower echelons would be defenders, some would be proud midfielders, pushing the ball forward and creating “situations”. Some were the goalkeepers who were chosen for the job because they couldn’t play ball, or because they were specialists, sporting keeper gloves, and getting admired for their technical skills. But the true apex of the hierarchy was occupied by the attackers. The guys who could push through others and ram the ball through the goalkeeper were the true heroes of the field. This self-generated order of youthful self-worth and self-concept was brutal, as it was instructive. Each football match was a psychology class and a lesson in the ways of the world that outweighed math, history, or geography by orders of magnitude. We could witness the natural constellation of humanity based on their genetic makeup and their willingness to face their fears.
Here’s a second, shorter sample of a reflective essay:
The sources of love for instrumental music..
There’s a question I can’t quite answer. Why do I love instrumental music so much? And why, and I’m especially enamored with the music of the East? The Persian, the Indian, the Afghan, the Japanese, the Turkish, the Kurdish, the Arabic? Since I first discovered these musical notes, my life was never been the same. Recently I watched a great documentary about Quincy Jones where he said he touched his first piano at twelve, and these first few taps of fingers defined the rest of his life. Isn’t that strange, that in reality, we don’t choose things? The things choose us. Where do these natural inclinations come from? It must be our environment, our personality, our natural talent. But the other part seems mysterious, like some sort of cosmic accident. I first heard about the Oud when reading “My Name is Red” by Orhan Pamuk. I instantly went online to hear this instrument and from there on, I discovered dozens of beautiful instruments such as tar, setar, sitar, buzuq, sarod, tabla, rebab, shakuhachi, quin, biwa, to the goddamn gamelan drums. Hearing the esraj in a tower of the ancient Indian fort in Jodhpur melted my heart. It was as if this melody was constructed just for me like I’d heard it before. Perhaps in another life.
Looking backward, moving forward
There are certain milestones in your life: finishing high school, falling in love for the first time, your first journey abroad, the first kiss, the first psychedelic trip, graduating from the university, getting your first job, getting married, having children… Each of these brings something new and unexpected and makes you grow as an individual. But you can run through life and never reflect on how it all changed , how silly and incompetent you were just a few years ago. And how you’ll think the same thing about the present in a few years. Perhaps you should compose a reflective essay and think about all of this, and about what’s coming. Next up, you may want to explore a list of the best essays of all time .
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