How to Write a Reflective Essay: Guide, Tips, Tricks, and Ideas
A reflective essay is a paper that describes previous experiences or an event, interprets its meaning, and picks up on the lessons that can be learned from it. In essence, a reflective essay is exactly what it is, a reflection. As a writer, you are analyzing a personal encounter from your past and trying to make sense of it.
In a reflective essay, you are required to paint a candid picture of something specific from your past. Here, you need to be open about your emotions and thoughts to uncover truths about your personality and traits. The person reading your reflective paper has to feel transported back to the time you are talking about in the paper.
This article is the ultimate guide on how to write a reflective essay including tips and tricks on how to format your paper, an ideal outline, and a few topic ideas to get you started.
What is a Reflective Essay?
There is a common saying that states, being wise is far better than being knowledgeable. Well, wisdom is attained through reflecting on personal experiences and analyzing those encounters from a different perspective. A reflective paper allows you to become more mindful of yourself and build on awareness.
Although reflection papers are subjective and extremely personal, they still have to maintain an academic format and they must be organized. Especially if you are writing a reflective essay on a learning experience which is a common assignment in school. Now that you have a basic idea of what this type of essay entails, here is how to write a reflective paper.
How to Start a Reflective Essay
Before we jump into the format of a reflective essay, there are a few tips that are important to note. Remember, in a reflection paper, you are not writing merely to give a story but to also share the lessons you have acquired.
First, think of the event or encounter you want to write about for your reflective paper. Try not to introduce a fib in an attempt to make the story more thought-provoking. An interesting reflective essay relies on your ability to tell a true story enticingly. In cases you are wondering how to write a reflective essay for university, the idea is still the same.
Secondly, jot down the key elements of the event that you want to include in the reflection paper and come up with an outline. Ideally, you want your story to have a good flow so that you do not confuse the reader with random, jumbled-up details. A story is only as good as its flow!
Remember to write down anything and everything you remember including adjectives that will embellish your reflective essay and give it an edge over the others. If you are writing a reflective essay about a learning experience describe everything as elaborately as you can. You can even consult with your classmates in case you forgot something.
Lastly, think about the meaning of your experiences. This is the essence of a reflective essay. Jot down the most important aspect that you picked up on since this will be the building block of your thesis statement
What is the Format of a Reflection Paper?
The format of a reflective essay is similar to any other type of academic essay. Here is how to structure your paper.
The first paragraph of your reflective paper is the introduction where you familiarize the reader with the subject matter. Here, gives your reader an overview of the story, and the impact it had on you. Remember to include a thesis statement which is the center of your essay.
In the subsequent paragraphs after the introduction, write about the subject and the impression it had on you. In this part of the reflection essay answer the following questions;
a) Why did this happen?
b) What did I see, feel or think?
c) Why did I feel that way?
d) How did this experience change the course of my life?
e) Was the experience unique to me and how did others in the same situation feel?
f) What could I have done differently?
g) What is the meaning of this experience and how does it relate to my current life?
h) Was this a good or a bad experience in the context of my current situation?
i) How can I apply the lessons I learned in my life?
j) How did the experience affect me and why?
Restate your thesis and conclude the paper demonstrating how you have improved your life due to the experience. The conclusion of your reflective paper is a great place to describe your thoughts and nuanced perspective including the plans that you intend for the future.
Ideas for a Reflective Essay
In case your professor has not specified the topic for a reflective essay, here are some ideas that you can write about.
1. Life changing events
2. Places that you have traveled to in the past
3. Interesting people you have met
4. Significant thoughts you have encountered
5. Books, TV shows, plays or concerts that have had an impact.
There you are, tips and tricks on how to write an interesting reflective essay that is sure to give you an advantage over others and a winning grade. However, coming up with ideas on your own might still be challenging. If you find yourself in such a pickle, contact Homework Owls and an experienced writer will be assigned to assist you with any questions that you might have.