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Reflective Practice: Reflective Writing

What is a Reflective Journal?

One of the habits of reflection is finding a way to notice what is going on, recording it, inquiring into it and re-visiting it as needed.

Many people therefore keep some kind of a reflective journal. Keeping a journal helps us to record and remember what happened.   

It also gives us a place to reflect on what happened. Reflection invites us to look at events, to examine what happened, what feelings arose, what issues came up, what action happened as a result and from that to see if we can gain any insights that might help us. Hunches and intuitions can also be written about.

You could also include images - drawings, images from magazines that connect to you and photographs.

The more you use your journal and develop a habit of writing the deeper your reflection will become

It is useful in your journal to develop a systematic way of writing about an event. You could use the questions mentioned below in Questions for Reflection to help you think about an event.

In your journal:

  • try to focus on what you learned
  • look at the vulnerable places and see what you can learn from these
  • question and explore everything - facts and feelings, ideas and hunches

Questions for Reflection

These questions may help with your reflections: 

If I were to draw this situation what would it look like?

How will others respect to my actions?

What might be causing me discomfort in this situation?

Are my responses reflective of my values?

Is this common?

Is there anything in the past that might link to this?

What is really important to me?

What is the worst that could happen?

What paths feel right?

What am I not seeing?

Might I be imagining any of this?

What surprises me about this?

How to write reflectively

Some books on Reflective Writing

Qualities in Reflective Writing

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Writing in the context of reflection involves more than a description of an event, it also needs to include thoughts, feelings, intuitions. It is essentially an exploration of yourself. Writing tends to make us create a coherent story and clarifies thought. The act of actually writing things down can in itself help us to clarify and see a situation.

Writing also requires that we find our own voice. Your reflective piece is yours and it shows your unique voice. You will not write the wrong thing because whatever you write will be right for you.

Your writing should aim to be non judgemental, seeking openess and looking for interconnections

Include as much detail as you can (Use the 5 senses initially to help with this)

It involves:

  • analysing and commenting on the object, process, etc from different perspectives

  • looking at what worked and what didn't 

  • exploring feelings
  • identifying what you learned

 Certain types of language and words can be used in this type of writing. Examples include: 

For me /    Thought - Did Not Think    /    Felt   - Did Not Feel  /    Noticed - Did Not Notice  /    Realised - Did Not Realise  /    Perhaps /   Wonder if  /    Shows  /    Learning  / This means that    

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