Most essays are research types that delve into any other subject but yourself. You take the time to look at what other people have said on a given subject and then write your own thoughts on the issue, giving credit where credit is due.
However, when you write a reflective essay, you only have yourself to consult, analyze and comment. These essays can be hard to do because you get no help from anyone else except yourself and a guide on writing an excellent reflective essay.
What Is a Reflective Essay?
This type of essay is all about you and some part of your life. It is where you select one part of your life and reflect on what transpired, the emotions you had, and the feelings you experienced. It is very personal work.
The hard part is making that portion of your life interesting and exciting in order to keep your readers captivated by the accounts you relate to. This essay helps you sharpen your own critical thinking skills as well as develop your opinions and express them in a proper manner.
Reflective Essay Examples
The Format of Reflective Essay
There is no real format when it comes to writing a reflective essay. You can create subtitles as you do with a research paper, or you can write it like a diary or a journal. You have a little bit of freedom in how your reflective essay will look.
The key to writing a good reflective essay is to make sure that the content flows and does not jump around from one situation to another. Another guideline would be to think about who you want to read your essay and write according to that level of the audience.
Of course, if it is an assignment, your teacher will provide format guidelines for you, and all you have to do is follow those.
How to Write a Reflective Essay (Step-by-Step)
There are a few key steps you need to follow and when you ask yourself the right questions, you should be able to create the right content that will be interesting to others to read.
- Pick the event you want to reflect on and talk about
- Create your thesis and think of the main points that will support that goal
- Write an engaging first paragraph to capture your audience’s attention and hold it
- Use one paragraph for each main point and state your reflections in that paragraph
- Summarize your thoughts in conclusion, giving the lessons you have learned
Topics for Reflective Essay
Since you are writing about yourself and the events that have shaped your life, you are free to pick anyone that you want. That means you have a myriad of options and narrowing them all down to one will be the most difficult aspect of writing this type of essay.
- Holidays – Christmas, Easter, Presidents Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, etc.
- Birthdays – any year you wish to talk about…
- Beach experiences – watching the ocean tide come in, sunsets over the water, roasting marshmallows over a fire…
- Special locations – going to a museum or the zoo, the planetarium…
- Family reunions – seeing cousins you haven’t seen in years…
- Misc – growing up, news reports on other countries, your room, and so on.
As you can see you have quite a lot of topics to choose from and each one is unique to you. The key is to pick one that other people will be interested in reading about.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
There is something called TMI or too much information. The reflective essay is more about your opinion and analysis of a given event. it is not about the color of your dress nor is it autobiographical
Then another mistake to avoid is to ignore any essay structure. Writing freestyle only ends up giving the reader content that is disorganized, incoherent, and boring to read. Also, you want to be formal. If you are too informal, you won’t get your point across, and your reflection will be missing analysis and impact.
Dos and Don’ts of Reflective Essay
Even if there is no format, there is still a right and wrong way to write a reflective essay. here are some of those right things to do and wrong options you need to exclude:
- State your thoughts clearly and in a descriptive manner
- It’s an academic paper so it needs to be formal intone
- Include an introduction, main body, and conclusion
- Make sure the content is factual
- Write a letter to a friend its not a relationship-building assignment
- Use too many experiences or main points, edit out the least important
- Write everything at the same time. Create a step by step outline to help you focus
Be a free-spirited writer. Make sure to write in a logical manner
Some Final Thoughts
While you have a lot of freedom in writing a reflective essay, there are still rules to follow in order to produce great work. Remember, you are talking about yourself, and your essay should cast you in a good light and not make you look like a crazy person writing a manifesto.
It will take practice to edit out topics, but once you hit the right one, you will know it, and the material will be there to help you create a great paper.