A Comprehensive Guide to Reflective Essay Writing
As you might have gathered from its name; a reflective essay requires you to do quite a bit of thinking beforehand. While writing, you are meant to be examining a subject for your reader. After spending what probably feels like hours in serious contemplation about what you will write, you probably feel very prepared to write your essay. This is a common misconception among students that always leads to poorly written reflection essays. Do not start writing without a comprehensive plan, no matter how much reflection you have done. Here is all you need to know about planning and writing such essays.
Understanding What Is a Reflective Essay
This is an essay that describes a subject and analyzes it for the reader. You may choose to reflect on a memory, an event, or experience you have had. You will then analyze it and draw lessons from it from your point of view. To understand what is a reflective essay, you must think of it as a personal diary written for others to read.
How to Write a Reflective Essay Explained
To write a good essay, you must be able to execute your ideas with precision. Reflection papers have a habit of getting too wordy as you put all your ideas in writing. Start by reading other reflective articles and papers to get an idea of what is expected. Although this essay requires you to do quite a lot of thinking, be careful not to get overwhelmed and go around in circles.
Knowing how to write a reflective essay requires that you prepare a plan, write an outline, choose an appropriate format, and then execute your idea in an organized manner. The outline will allow you to organize your thoughts while a plan will ensure you do not go off-topic and end up with a long ramble that will do little to impress your instructor.
Choosing a Reflective Essay Format
Since you are reflecting on your own experiences, the format you choose should allow you not only to tell a story but also explore the lessons learned and key takeaways from that particular event. The reflective essay format you use may vary depending on who your audience is. The two most common formats for such essays are:
- Diary entry – this format allows you to convey how your thoughts have changed over a given period. You will prepare daily logs of your thoughts and feelings which will then serve as your reflection paper.
- Academic format – this is similar to most essays and will require an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion
Academic Reflective Essay Structure Simplified
In most class assignments, you will have to use the academic format. The reflective essay structure may require you to discuss personal experiences to aid your growth or analyze a given work of literature or art to give more insight from your perspective. Whatever the case, the academic format must include
- An introduction that clarifies to the reader what you intend to discuss. The introduction is made complete by a thesis statement. Writing a good thesis statement is important, and we shall discuss it in the next section.
- Body paragraphs that are comprehensive and complement each other. Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence followed by an explanation which gives more details on the topic. You must also include evidence that backs up your argument and end with a summary that links to the topic sentence.
- The conclusion must summarize your whole discussion and leave the reader with something to think about. It is good to reiterate your thesis within your conclusion.
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Writing a Good Reflective Essay Thesis
The thesis for reflective essay is a summary of the particular event or experience that had such a great impact on you that you chose to write about it. The importance of this thesis is that it gives your essay some direction. It also reveals to the reader what to expect right from the start. With a well-written thesis, you are bound to have an organized paper that meets all the assignment requirements.
An important tip while writing a reflective essay thesis is to do it in moderation. Your statement must have just enough details to motivate the reader to continue and find out more. Giving too little information makes you appear unsure wile too much information may immediately satisfy the reader’s curiosity, giving them no reason to continue reading your essay.
Pick a Reflective Essay Topic You Can Relate To
Although reflective essays relay personal experiences, you must choose a topic that you can support with theory from various sources. Remember that the experience may leave some doubts and questions in the reader’s mind. You will have instances where you need to quote a different source to convince your reader. Here are a few topics that might be suitable when writing a reflective essay:
- Life’s biggest regrets
- A time you failed at something
- Important memories and how they relate to your future
- Significant conversations that have impacted your way of thinking
- How strong emotions drove you to make certain decisions
- A controversy you have always been inspired by
- A special teacher and the role he/she played in your life
- Nature and the outdoors
- Your life before and after a certain event
- Why you are unique
- Your deepest thoughts
- Doing something out of pure conviction
This list contains ideas that you can use to come up with reflective essay titles. A good title is not too wordy, so you must think of how to summarize the idea you choose into a good reflective essay topic.
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