As a writer, you typically spend a lot of time thinking about past events. You’ll take a look at what people have said to you, recall things you may have ready, or just giving thought to how times have changed over a certain amount of time. We often look at the process of critical thinking when looking at improving writing skills, but reflective thinking is also necessary.
These reflective writing tips will help you be able to process a personal response to the new information that comes your way every day as a writer. It’s a place where learning takes place, which means it’s important to remember that there isn’t really a right or wrong way to put reflections into words.
#1. It’s about opinions, not information.
Writing often involves instructions or facts, but in reflective writing you’re not trying to win an argument. You’re simply putting into words what your response to new information happens to be. You’re offering an opinion, even if it’s one that is based on your internal thoughts or feelings, and nothing more. This doesn’t mean information isn’t part of the reflective writing process. It just isn’t at the heart of what you’re trying to convey. This is about your reflections, not what has actually happened.
#2. Take the opportunity to explore.
Writing comes from a learned skill, much like many other things we all do every day. Reflective writing gives you the opportunity to explore these learning opportunities for hidden gems that might be lurking there. As you write about the experience, take time to examine the experiences you’ve had and how those experiences made you feel. Those feelings can help you then find new reflections to discuss.
#3. Look for new knowledge.
Reflective writing is a positive cycle that creates more reflective writing opportunities. As you explore your response to thoughts and feelings, you’re gaining more self-knowledge. This creates more new thoughts and feelings, which then creates more new self-knowledge, and so forth. The trick here is to give yourself permission to have a response. So often we’re told to stuff our feelings or label our thoughts and keep them private. This creates a negative cycle that makes reflective writing difficult.
#4. Avoid problem-solving situations with reflective writing.
You might be reflecting upon current events, but the goal isn’t to solve the world’s problems with this type of writing. You’re simply writing your own observations. Others can draw their own conclusions from what you’ve written. There is no judgment in this type of writing, which can be difficult to take out of a writer’s voice when the habit is to write in such a way.
#5. Instead of stating facts, state descriptions.
If there was a traffic accident, a journalist would look at the facts of the case. They’d talk about the intersection and how many accidents have occurred in the past. They’d state the condition of each person involved. They’d let the public know to avoid the area for a certain amount of time. All good, but not reflective.
Reflective writing would describe what happened: one car entered the intersection when another car was there and an accident occurred. Even if the writer would say, “One vehicle entered on a red light and struck the other vehicle,” that’s not observation – that’s a judgment made. Maybe the other driver didn’t see the red light. Maybe the light wasn’t working.
#6. What was your role?
Because reflective writing is about personal opinions and reactions, your role plays an important part in whatever is being written about. What are your feelings and perceptions about the role you played? How would you attempt to explain your role to someone else who doesn’t know what you were doing? As you answer these questions, you’ll be starting the reflective writing process.
#7. Look at other perspectives as well.
Reflective writing is often limited to personal introspection, which isn’t always a bad thing. It just isn’t necessarily a complete thing. Sometimes there are other concepts or theories that deserve to be included with the reflective process. Applying them to the situation can help you find even more new information to explore, which benefits your writing and the knowledge base of your readers.
These reflective writing tips are designed to help you find the ideas that will challenge what you believe you already know. You can explore these thoughts and observe new actions to then improve your writing in this area with every practice session you have.