Reflective essays are known to be the easiest kind of essays one would be expected to write. There are various reasons for this kind of a rumour. However, many people still find these essays to be difficult to churn out owing to the fact that they do not know the right method or I may rather call it the right structural format to write these essays in. A reflective essay reads more like a memoir where a person expresses his or her strong opinions on a specific issue.
Mostly, reflective essays are considered to be informal but sometimes, these can be asked to be written in a formal way for instance, when presenting an opinion in front of some business clients. But ideally, when a student writes a reflective essay its mostly in a classroom where the teacher provides him or her with a suitable topic.
This type of essay writing builds the confidence in oneself to express their opinions on any subject matter and also improves critical thinking in various kinds of fields. But I am aware that many find task of writing a reflective essay to be a mind numbing one. Hence, here in this article, I will be discussing ten golden tips for writing the best personal reflection essays.
1 – Come up with an event
Generally, your teacher will provide you with a topic to write your reflective essay or you can pick it yourself too. Whatever your topic is, your first step should be brainstorming all events, whether in your own life or from someone else’s life, which come to your mind when you think about that topic. For instance, an essay on women empowerment may remind you of any occasion where you might have been deprived your rights as a woman or that of your female relatives and friends. Once you a list of these incidents, you might want to pick up one of these as an opening to your essay which could be something like, ‘I remember this one time when a professor did not allow me to take a project because I am a girl…’. You get the idea, I suppose.
2 – Form arguments
It is very easy to pick up one point of argument and keep revolving around it because you can think of no more. And this happens a lot with reflection essays because people really do not know what to talk. That is why I suggest that you first form all your arguments on a piece of paper before planning to write your entire essay. This way you will what points to put where while you write the essay and it does not feel like you are jumping from one point to other only to come back to the previous argument.
3 – Decide your personal limit
Reflection essays are clearly a personal formation of opinions. As a writer, you are bound to draw out your personal opinions and I will talk about how to do that next but before we move on to that, I suggest you first decide the extent of the personal propaganda you are willing to do for the sake of this reflection essay. There might be events, incidents, occasions, situations which you might have brainstormed in the previous steps that you can use as examples to prove your point but yet, you may feel certain of them to be too personal or intimate to share in an essay. So, in this third step, rule out all the points which you do not want to share and remember that your life is only yours to decide and nobody, whether teacher or guide, can force you to talk about something you do not want to talk about.
4 – Deduce the arguments.
In step two, I have urged you to form the argument which is basically a crude way of listing out all that you want to say. But here, in this step, you have to specifically pick out arguments from that broad category of thoughts. By doing this, you will have a clear and distinct idea about how you may want to structure the reflective essay. When I deduce, I mean derive a conclusive point to become the topic statement of every paragraph of your essay. In this point, you will also be able to figure out the number of paragraphs your essay would ideally have as reflective essays do not have a strict paragraph structure and limit and since this also happens to be the most asked question about reflective essays.
5 – Co relate arguments with examples
Now that you have a list of specific arguments that you want to put out and also a separate list of examples, that are, the instances you listed in the first step, your next step is to co relate them. For each argument, you have to pick at least one instance. If the argument is a more important one than the others, then you may pick two or three instances to discuss your conclusion.
6 – Limit your examples
I know this sounds contradicting to my earlier points, but this is also a mistake a lot of people make while writing personal reflection essays. While telling or narrating an incident or story for the sake of making a point, you should always keep a word limit check. If you go on and on about what had happened in detail, then your readers might even forget the basic point you were trying to make by telling that story. So, you have to ensure that all your examples have a definite head and tail and possibly, a short word count.
7 – Be true to your thoughts
Remember I talked about me helping you draw out your personal ideas? Yes, this is the way to do it. When you first hear of a topic, there must be an inner voice inside you which quietly expresses its view point but soon after, it is flooded with the multiple opinions of so many other people who are also talking about it or have already talked about it in previous essays. This flood generally blindfolds your eyes and does not let you hear what your own ideas. To avoid this, I suggest you refrain from reading other essays on the same topic, discussing with other students or friends about this topic and also, do not research on the topic. I know this is not what is normally advisable but I am asking you to refrain from doing these things only before you have heard your own voice and noted down all of your own thoughts and opinions in a notebook.
8 – Research
Yes, yes. It seems contradictory again but it is not. After you are done noting down your own thoughts, then you should go on and find out what others have been talking about. Now you are free to talk to your friends, classmates and teachers about it. You should even go on and read what others have already written in essays on the same topic previously. This kind of research will now not cloud you because you have your own thoughts safe and secure on the paper. In fact, now this research will help you put other ideas into two necessary categories- in favour of and against of your point of view.
9 – Prepare for both sides of the coin
A personal reflection essay is sure a strong opiniated one and usually talks about the opinions of the one person who is writing the essay. However, to make it even more classic, we can add to it the overall surrounding opinions that others have been talking about. This is why I had asked you to research in the previous step. Now this is tricky as you definitely do not want this to turn into a long narrative essay and so, the trick is to present each external opinion in a statement and then, go on to explain your personal take on it. This way, the readers will never lose a track of what your major point was throughout the essay.
10 – You can write about one story too.
I mention this as a specific point because a lot of people get confused about how many examples and how many arguments they are supposed to write while writing a personal reflection essay. I want to let you know that reflection essays are easy to write only because you are allowed to pick up one incident from your life and then, turn it into an essay. It doesn’t necessarily involve research or contrasting other people’s opinions. It could simply be about you wanting to talk about something that happened in your life and how it affected you.
I hope that these ten tricks, more easily called steps, would help you write an amazing personal reflection essay. Always remember that this is an easy essay to write and that you can always express your opinion without hesitation out there. And that there is no need to feel awkward about writing a personal reflection essay. Now go on, brainstorm and begin. I wish you all the luck to achieve success and keep coming back for more.