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Writing a good reflective commentary thumb

Writing a good reflective commentary

I recently a ran an online workshop on what a good RC might include, so for those of students who were unable to attend (and for those who did attend, but would like a refresher), here’s a summary of my suggestions.

First of all, I think it’s helpful to remember the differences between notebooks, your writing diary and a Reflective Commentary:

Notebooks are where you start writing creatively, whether in the form of ideas and notes or sketches and early drafts. Notebook writing can form the basis of the projects and creative writing assignments that you will send to your tutor. You may find yourself starting numerous notebooks for different areas of interest.

No one will read your notebooks except you. Privacy is important because the thought of anyone reading your writing may inhibit you. Notebooks can be paper or electronic (many people use their phones for jotting down ideas), or a combination of both – it’s totally up to you.

Writing Diary:

Your writing diary is where you record your thoughts on your writing and your developing writing skills. You can discuss and reflect on concepts related to the writing craft here and reflect on what you feel your own strengths and weaknesses are. What are you good at? What do you need to work on? How can you improve these skills? Which writers can you learn from? What have you been reading?

When you are generating new writing material, you’ll be partly learning on an intuitive level. A writing diary will help you to be more conscious of your learning process and more aware of the different skills you’re developing. If you add to your diary regularly, it will form a record of your writing journey. 

Like your notebooks, your writing diary is for you alone and you can keep it in whatever format you prefer.

You can use your writing diary to help you write your Reflective Commentaries, but they aren’t the same thing. 

Reflective Commentaries:

A Reflective Commentary is either a short piece of reflective writing (500 words for Levels 1, 2 and 3; or 350 words at Foundation Level) considering the particular assignment it accompanies, or it’s a longer piece of reflective writing which you submit at the end of the unit in which you reflect on your learning over the unit as a whole, with reference to particular assignments (especially the final assignment).

A few dos and don’ts:

Don’t discuss how you came up with your idea.

Don’t discuss pieces you started and discarded.

Don’t summarise the story, poem, script etc. – your tutor has just read it..

Do focus on the creative work you’ve just submitted to your tutor.

Do focus on a few writing techniques you’ve used in the work. You can’t cover everything, so choose those that are particularly pertinent.

Do say what writing techniques you used and why they were effective.

So, don’t say: “I wrote my story in first person” and leave it at that. Instead say: “I wrote my story in first person because I wanted the feeling of intimacy of the narrator talking directly to the reader about the events. This was important for my story because….”

Discussing Writing Techniques:  

The term ‘writing techniques’ may seem rather abstract, but all it means is those techniques you used to write your creative piece. Here’s a selection of writing techniques you could consider:

Techniques in fiction: 

Descriptive writing, metaphors and similes, setting, character, use of dialogue, structure, narrative pacing, point of view, tense (usually past or present), use of flashback (or, occasionally, flashforward), voice, word choice, register (formal or casual), information reveal (what do you tell the reader and when), psychic distance, use of free indirect discourse, sentence structure (e.g. a short sentence at the end of a paragraph for impact). 

Techniques in poetry: 

Use of stanzas, use of punctuation, imagery, word choice, tone, structure, point of view, use of sound (e.g. rhyme, or assonance, alliteration), rhythm.

These are just a few of the techniques you could discuss – there may be others that are more relevant to your particular piece of creative work.

The tone of the RC:

The reflective commentary is not an academic essay, so you don’t need to use academic jargon. Use first person, because it’s a personal reflection on your work.

However, don’t be too colloquial and chatty either – your tone needs to be moderate and considered. Don’t say “I tried to do X but it was rubbish”. Instead, say you thought it wasn’t successful as a technique and explain why.

Similarly, when discussing your reading, don’t just say “I loved this book” or “It was fab”. Instead, explain what you thought was good about it and why. Give your opinion, but support it with careful analysis.

Reflecting on your reading: 

In the assessment criteria, a proportion of marks are allocated for Contextual Knowledge. Your final RC is your opportunity to demonstrate that you’ve read other writers and engaged with them seriously, not just as a reader, but as another writer. 

In your final RC you should refer to both primary materials (e.g. novels, poems, stories, plays, films, memoirs, poetry performances, etc – depending on what form you’re writing in) and secondary materials (e.g. books, articles, blogs, videos, etc. about the craft of writing). 

Get into good habits early on by referring to some primary and some secondary materials in your short RCs submitted with each assignment.

Think about what you’ve learnt from your reading in terms of craft – this is much more impressive than just saying you were inspired to write about the same subject. 

So don’t say, “I enjoyed Vicki Feaver’s poem ‘Ironing’ and decided to write a poem about ironing of my own.” This might be true and you can put this in your writing diary, but in your RC try to think about what you learnt about the craft of writing poetry from your reading. 

Include short quotations from your reading to demonstrate your points, but a short phrase or single sentence usually suffices (remember you’ve only 500 words for the short RCs).

The Final RC:

The Final RC is longer and in it you should consider what you’ve learnt from the unit as whole, as well as referring to particular assignments. You will now be close to preparing your work for assessment, so you should discuss your redrafting process – what you’ve changed and why – and also demonstrate your engagement with your tutor’s feedback.

Reflecting on redrafting:

Be precise. Don’t just say “I cut extraneous words” or “I rewrote Assignment 4 a lot”. Give examples of what you changed and why .

Use quotations from your own work when discussing what you’ve changed, but be brief: just a pertinent sentence or phrase.

Don’t just give a quotation from your assignment that shows it before redrafting, and then one after. Discuss the changes made and say why you think it is an improvement.

Reflecting on tutor feedback:

You don’t need to agree with every suggestion or comment from your tutor, but you do need to show you’ve thought about your tutor’s feedback. 

Similarly, don’t say you changed something just because your tutor told you to – only change it if you think it’s the right change to make, and say why you think so.

A quirk of the system is that at Level 1 you are likely to write this final reflective commentary before receiving feedback on Assignment Five. You’ll need to redraft your final RC and add comments about your tutor feedback’s on Assignment Five and your redrafting process, before you submit this final RC for assessment.

Submit both your tutor-annotated final RC and a redrafted version at assessment.


Include a bibliography/reference list at end of all sources referred to in your RC (but don’t include anything you’ve not directly referred to), and use the Harvard Referencing Style.

The Bibliography does not form part of your word count.

Why write RCs:

Writing the reflective commentaries is an important part of the creative writing degree and the RCs serve several purposes. They are useful for tutors as they help us to understand students’ aims in a particular piece of writing. They should demonstrate students’ critical engagement with other writers as well as with books, articles, blogs etc. about the craft of writing, which helps us make better reading suggestions and to understand where our students are on their learning journey.

But, and arguably much more importantly, they’re a crucial part of your learning process, as they require a conscious engagement with the writing craft and a reflection on your writing skills, all of which will help you to think ‘like a writer’.

11 thoughts on “ Writing a good reflective commentary ”

Thank you Vicky. The workshop helped me have a better understanding of reflective commentaries.

This is an interesting article. I am studying photography and part of the work involves writing critiques of other people’s work. The guidelines set out above are relevant to any critique, whatever the subject matter. Thank you. I will be putting these suggestions into practice in my future work.

Thanks Vicky. I like the way you start with the Don’ts before the Dos!

Great advice Vicky! It would be lovely to see another workshop covering Reflective Commentaries. For some reason I struggle to get these right when doing my own R.Cs for the Art of Poetry.

This book called called: “Creative Writing and Critical Reflective Commentary.” was the only recent book I could find. It was really helpful to me It has an example in it and what else to include like references and how to write reflecively with underpinning critical theories.

“Your blog always provides valuable insights. Thank you for sharing!”

“I noticed you mentioned a study in this article. Do you have a link to the source for more information?”

It is critical to recognize the differences between notebooks, writing diaries, and Reflective Commentaries. Your workshop overview is important to both attendees and those who were unable to participate. Such clear thoughts greatly boost our writing experience. Thank you for sharing this enlightened viewpoint!

I’m really intrigues to know why you say so emphatically not to write about how you cam up with an idea – I would have thought his was crucial to the reflective process. Could you explain?

Your blog is appreciated for its usefulness and informative content. IFDA is the best institute for Computer Courses in Delhi and after that any courses completed IFDA is providing paid internship & 100% job placement. Best Computer Course in Delhi

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Introduction to Reflection

There are many ways to produce reflection in writing. Try using these examples to kick-start your reflective writing.

Open each drop-down to see a different reflective writing example and exercise. 

The Six Minute Write (Bolton, 2014)

If you are being asked to write reflectively you may feel that you do not know where to begin. Bolton’s Six Minute Writing exercise is a useful way to help get you started.

Peter has just started a course to train to be a counsellor and his tutor is asking every student to reflect on their learning and the development of their interpersonal skills. Peter is unsure where to start as reflective writing is a new thing for him, so he decides to try the Six Minute Write.

“Well, I’ve never written anything like this before! When I wrote at school I was always told to be really careful – make sure your spelling and grammar are correct, don’t use abbreviations, make it sound formal. This feels quite liberating! But, is it any good? The tutor says ‘Just write what’s in your head’ so here goes.

Today we did our first role play exercises and how scary was that? I always knew that the course would involve this and I do enjoy talking with people, but trying out listening skills and asking open questions is all really difficult. I felt so nervous and forgot what to do. The people I was working with seemed so much better than me – I know I’ve got so much to learn it’s frightening. Will I ever be able to do this? I really don’t know, but I do know I’m going to try.”

Use Bolton’s (2014, p. 136) Six Minute Write exercise to begin any writing exercise, whether academic or reflective, personal or formal.

Here are Bolton’s pointers:

  • Write for six minutes without stopping.
  • Write whatever comes to mind and let your writing flow freely.
  • Keep writing and do not pause to think too much about what you are writing.
  • Do not pause to analyse what you have written, otherwise you will be tempted to write what you think you should write rather than what you want to write.
  • Keep writing even if it does not make much sense to you.
  • Do not worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar or jargon.
  • Allow yourself to write anything.
  • This is your writing and whatever you write is correct because it is yours. Remember, no-one else needs to read what you have written.
  • Stop after six minutes and look at how much you have been able to write.

If we pay attention to how we think, we’ll soon notice that we are often in conversation with ourselves.

We have a kind of internal dialogue as we go about our day, making decisions (“The red top or the blue one?”) observing the world (“Beautiful day. But chilly. Where did I put my gloves?”) and maintaining self-awareness (“Oh goodness, she’s heading this way. You’re nervous? Interesting. Calm down. Be polite.”).

Reflective writing can take the shape of dialogue and be structured as a conversation with different aspects of yourself. We all have multiple identities (child, parent, student, employee, friend etc.) and each aspect of ourselves can take a different perspective on a situation.

Dialogic reflection harnesses these multiple perspectives to explore and inquire about ourselves in a certain situation, often when the purpose or outcome is unknown.

So now they’re encouraging us to try different types of reflective writing. I like the idea of this dialogical writing thing – feels like having a conversation with myself, so I think I’ll have a go. Not sure how it will pan out but I’m going to imagine talking with my organised self (OS) and my critical self (CS) and see how it goes.

OS – so doing really well at the moment, feeling pretty much on track with things and definitely on top.

CS – so how long do you think that will last? I know what you’re like! You always do this – think things are ok, sit back, relax and then get behind.

OS – do I? Umm… suppose you might be right…

CS – what do you mean, might be right?

OS – ok, you are right!

CS – and we know where this ends up, don’t we? Panic mode!

OS – and I need to avoid that. So, let’s think about what I can do. Look at the coming week and month and start planning!

Focus on an issue or concern that you have relating to your studies or practice. Imagine you are having a conversation with a friend about the issue because you want to get their perspective. Write a dialogue with “them” that explores your concerns. Raise any questions you’d like answered.

If need be, write another dialogue on the same issue with another “friend” to explore another perspective.

Once you’ve finished, re-read your conversation. Did your “friend” offer any new perspectives on the issue that hadn’t occurred to you before you began writing? Are any of these worth reflecting on further?

Driscoll (2007) What?, So what?, Now what?

Driscoll’s (2007) ‘What?’ model is a straightforward reflective cycle of 3 parts. Evolved from Borton’s (1970) Developmental Framework, it has 3 stages that ask us to consider What?, So what?, and Now what?

Step 1 – What? – involves writing a description of an event or an experience.

Step 2 – So what? – here we reflect on the event or experience and start to analyse selected aspects of it, considering why they were important and how they impacted the whole.

Step 3 – Now what? – a range of proposed action points are devised following the experience, focusing on what has been learned.

Dan is training to be a nurse in elderly care and wants to reflect on the experiences he is gaining on his placement. Dan decides to use the questions in Driscoll’s model to help him to begin to analyse what he is learning.

Step 1 – What?

Today I was observing an experienced community nurse change a dressing on a man’s leg that is badly infected. The man was nervous and became very distressed – he has had dressings replaced regularly and knows that the process is very painful. I felt awful about causing him more pain. The community nurse seemed very calm and spoke to him in a reassuring way. She asked him if he would like some pain relief and he said yes. She sat with him for ten minutes to make sure that the pain relief was working and spoke with him about his grandson’s visit that he was looking forward to at the weekend. This definitely seemed to put him at ease.

Step 2 – So what?

She made it all look so easy. How would I cope if I had to do this? As a nurse I am meant to relieve pain not cause it. She focused on the patient while I focused on myself.

Step 3 – Now what?

I learned a lot from the community nurse. She was very caring but firm. She knew the man’s dressing needed to be changed but did everything in a very calm and kind way. She distracted him and helped him to relax. These are all strategies that I can try in the future if I have to do this. Nursing isn’t only about my clinical skills; my interpersonal skills are vital, as is compassion and understanding for my patients.

Driscoll has formulated some useful questions to help us to use the model effectively, including:

Step 1 – What? – how did I react and what did others do who were involved?

Step 2 – So what? – do I feel troubled in any way, and if so, how?

Step 3 – Now what? – how can I change my approach if I face a similar situation again and what are my main learning points? What different options are there for me?

Write some notes about an experience you have had recently where you feel you have learned a lot. Can you use the stages of Driscoll’s cycle to develop this into a short reflection?

Note: Driscoll’s model is useful when you are new to professional practice and it seems like there is so much to learn. In particular, the question ‘Do I feel troubled in any way?’ is useful as our feelings can act as a prompt to deeper thinking. However, after a while you may find that you want to explore at a more complex level and move on to other approaches. It’s important to allow space for your reflective skills to develop in the same way as your professional skills.

Some small scale reflective questions :

  • What were 3 things that went well today/this week? How do you know?
  • What was a situation today/this week where I could have done better? How?
  • What was your biggest challenge today/this week? How did you overcome it?
  • What was the predominant feeling you had today/this week? Why?
  • What made you happy/sad/frustrated/angry/etc today/this week? Can you find some way of having more or less of the identified aspects?

Some larger scale reflective questions :

  • Am I optimising my time, energy and performance according to my values, goals and objectives?
  • Am I making the most of opportunities available to me? Am I working effectively within any fixed restrictions? Where there are barriers, am I identifying them and tackling or circumventing them where possible?
  • Do my values, goals and objectives still align with each other? Is this reflected in how I am spending my time?
  • Are my goals still the right ones to deliver on my values? Should/Can I refine or revise the strategies I am using for fulfilling my values and goals?

Where you have been

Where you are now, related links, © 2021. this work is licensed under a cc by-nc-sa 4.0 license..


  • Cambridge Libraries

Study Skills

Reflective practice toolkit, introduction.

  • What is reflective practice?
  • Everyday reflection
  • Models of reflection
  • Barriers to reflection
  • Free writing
  • Reflective writing exercise
  • Bibliography

creative writing reflection example

Many people worry that they will be unable to write reflectively but chances are that you do it more than you think!  It's a common task during both work and study from appraisal and planning documents to recording observations at the end of a module. The following pages will guide you through some simple techniques for reflective writing as well as how to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

What is reflective writing?

Writing reflectively involves critically analysing an experience, recording how it has impacted you and what you plan to do with your new knowledge. It can help you to reflect on a deeper level as the act of getting something down on paper often helps people to think an experience through.

The key to reflective writing is to be analytical rather than descriptive. Always ask why rather than just describing what happened during an experience. 


Reflective writing is...

  • Written in the first person
  • Free flowing
  • A tool to challenge assumptions
  • A time investment

Reflective writing isn't...

  • Written in the third person
  • Descriptive
  • What you think you should write
  • A tool to ignore assumptions
  • A waste of time

Adapted from The Reflective Practice Guide: an Interdisciplinary Approach / Barbara Bassot.

You can learn more about reflective writing in this handy video from Hull University:

Created by SkillsTeamHullUni

  • Hull reflective writing video transcript (Word)
  • Hull reflective writing video transcript (PDF)

Where might you use reflective writing?

You can use reflective writing in many aspects of your work, study and even everyday life. The activities below all contain some aspect of reflective writing and are common to many people:

1. Job applications

Both preparing for and writing job applications contain elements of reflective writing. You need to think about the experience that makes you suitable for a role and this means reflection on the skills you have developed and how they might relate to the specification. When writing your application you need to expand on what you have done and explain what you have learnt and why this matters - key elements of reflective writing.

2. Appraisals

In a similar way, undertaking an appraisal is a good time to reflect back on a certain period of time in post. You might be asked to record what went well and why as well as identifying areas for improvement.

3. Written feedback

If you have made a purchase recently you are likely to have received a request for feedback. When you leave a review of a product or service online then you need to think about the pros and cons. You may also have gone into detail about why the product was so good or the service was so bad so other people know how to judge it in the future.

4. Blogging

Blogs are a place to offer your own opinion and can be a really good place to do some reflective writing. Blogger often take a view on something and use their site as a way to share it with the world. They will often talk about the reasons why they like/dislike something - classic reflective writing.

5. During the research process

When researchers are working on a project they will often think about they way they are working and how it could be improved as well as considering different approaches to achieve their research goal. They will often record this in some way such as in a lab book and this questioning approach is a form of reflective writing.

6. In academic writing

Many students will be asked to include some form of reflection in an academic assignment, for example when relating a topic to their real life circumstances. They are also often asked to think about their opinion on or reactions to texts and other research and write about this in their own work.

Think about ... When you reflect

Think about all of the activities you do on a daily basis. Do any of these contain elements of reflective writing? Make a list of all the times you have written something reflective over the last month - it will be longer than you think!

Reflective terminology

A common mistake people make when writing reflectively is to focus too much on describing their experience. Think about some of the phrases below and try to use them when writing reflectively to help you avoid this problem:

  • The most important thing was...
  • At the time I felt...
  • This was likely due to...
  • After thinking about it...
  • I learned that...
  • I need to know more about...
  • Later I realised...
  • This was because...
  • This was like...
  • I wonder what would happen if...
  • I'm still unsure about...
  • My next steps are...

Always try and write in the first person when writing reflectively. This will help you to focus on your thoughts/feelings/experiences rather than just a description of the experience.

Using reflective writing in your academic work

Man writing in a notebook at a desk with laptop

Many courses will also expect you to reflect on your own learning as you progress through a particular programme. You may be asked to keep some type of reflective journal or diary. Depending on the needs of your course this may or may not be assessed but if you are using one it's important to write reflectively. This can help you to look back and see how your thinking has evolved over time - something useful for job applications in the future. Students at all levels may also be asked to reflect on the work of others, either as part of a group project or through peer review of their work. This requires a slightly different approach to reflection as you are not focused on your own work but again this is a useful skill to develop for the workplace.

You can see some useful examples of reflective writing in academia from Monash University ,  UNSW (the University of New South Wales) and Sage . Several of these examples also include feedback from tutors which you can use to inform your own work.

Laptop/computer/broswer/research by StockSnap via Pixabay licenced under CC0.

Now that you have a better idea of what reflective writing is and how it can be used it's time to practice some techniques.

This page has given you an understanding of what reflective writing is and where it can be used in both work and study. Now that you have a better idea of how reflective writing works the next two pages will guide you through some activities you can use to get started.

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Creative Reflection Technique: Everyone Wins When Students Map their Learning

Inside: A meaningful end-of-year reflection technique for older students that combines the power of student-led learning with brain-based associations… 

Ever wish you could just find a rainbow that will lead you all the way to a real pot of gold? If we’re speaking in metaphors, you may be in luck. When it comes to teaching and learning, we all want students to “do the work.” Yes, they should be taking charge of their learning! But…how?

Year mapping is a powerful reflection technique that highlights a whole slew of power-house education skills.

  • collaboration
  • critical thinking
  • connections

So, if you’re in search of creative reflection techniques where students are driving the critical thinking bus, you’ll want all the year mapping details: What? Why? How? In this post, we’re going to dive in!

If you find that you are ready to start playing with this activity but are short on time to prep, you can find my starter kit here .


Year mapping is a blissful mixture of some things you probably already know about! Imagine a combination of one pagers , sketchnotes , and concept maps…without the limitation of a single page. I first learned about the general concept of year mapping from brain-based teaching experts Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers  who share that the practice helps students to see and celebrate what they’re learned in your class.

Intrigued, I set to work with figuring out what year mapping means to me and creating scaffolding materials I felt students may need to get started. In doing so, my brain was swirling with inspiration and ideas, and I started to well up with excitement. Done well, I thought, this could really be a reflection game changer!

For me, year mapping is an activity that requires students to reflect on everything they have learned in the class! Students work with peers or individually to identify big takeaways, key learning points, and make connections between overarching topics of the class. (You can choose the topics, students can pick, or you can select some together.)


Ever wonder if your teaching is clear? If you are curious whether students can make connections between units or learning standards, this creative reflection activity will give you valuable feedback to analyze.

For instance, can students explain the relationship between reading like writer and writing like a reader? Can they draw parallels between sentence structure and pacing techniques? Do they see how language elements and vocabulary impact an author’s style?

As students map their connections, they solidify their understanding of concepts, unearth the magic of how all parts of the course are interconnected, and even extend learning to life outside of school. (Ex. – Why is the writing process an important workplace skill?)

Due to the open-ended nature of this end of year activity, there are many access points for students of all readiness levels. That means it’s allows for efficient and practical differentiation! Plus, it really can be adapted to any occasion and format.

Another fabulous detail? YOU, the teacher, are free to confer with students, coach them through their review session, and fill in learning gaps where necessary.

Look how much brain-based connections are emphasized with this reflection technique!

Year mapping - a powerful creative reflection technique for older students!


Learning maps are visual representations of learning. When we ask students to create maps of their learning, we are, to some degree, putting them in the shoes of the teacher.

Think about it. What do you do when you sit down at the beginning of the year with your curriculum? Most likely…identify learning standards, group them into lessons or units that are related in content, and figure out how to draw connections between them. Part of this process is scaffolding skills. We teach parts of speech before sentence structure, and we teach story elements before theme. They are building blocks.

This is higher-level thinking!

Once students have the “topics” they will map, they go through a very similar process. Except…theirs is a reflective activity toward the end of the semester or year instead of a planning session at the beginning.

Students truly get to be creative because they really can arrange the topics on their “maps” in any way they desire, as long as they can show meaningful connections .

Think…spokes on a wheel, threads on a spider web, stops on a highway, or rungs of a ladder. Some may choose to use a line graph for their year, showing the points where writing, reading, grammar, and vocabulary intersected for them. Others may opt for books on a shelf and group them by genres that represent standards. What about a treasure map that moves from Unit 1 all the way to the final Unit? X marks the spot!

Creative thinkers will latch on to the visual aspect of the brainstorming stage. Working with partners and using graphic organizers can help to make the process less abstract for students.


First, students should identify the knowledge, skills, and big ideas they should include in their maps.

Once your students have identified their topics, they’ll be staring at…a blank paper. To complete year mapping, students really can use any medium they want. Consider some of the possibilities:

  • an infographic  
  • a colorful mural
  • a set of linked Slides  where the first slide links them all together
  • a physical road map on two sheets of paper – (I have found only one 8.5 x 11 is not enough room)

Regardless of the final product, I recommend having students do some brainstorming. You may want to give them directions, like this:

Organize categories…

Use the blank paper or sticky notes in front of you to begin thinking about how each of your topics is related to others on the list. It would be helpful to first create some categories . One example would be to organize topics by unit. What learning targets did we accomplish during our short story unit? Many of you probably recall we worked on analyzing story elements. In one category, you may include strategies for analyzing characterization, plot, and setting. (It may help to brainstorm some possibilities together on the board.)

Make connections…

You have all demonstrated that you can analyze a short story and identify the theme, but now I want to see your creativity at work! As you reflect on what you have learned this school year, try to map as many connections as possible between learning targets within and across units of study. How does grammar help us write? How does being an observant reader help us with writing? Can analyzing story elements help us to be strong writers? You can use the graphic organizers to help you put ideas together. This will be your brain on paper!

Choose your format…

Once you have a basic idea of how you want to proceed, you’ll want to choose your medium . Would it make most sense to represent your learning digitally or on paper? What size or how many pages would be appropriate to show a vast spread of learning? (Discuss the advantages and limitations of each.)

Remember your goal…

Your goal? Reflect on your year of learning and make as many powerful associations between lessons as possible! Show me what you know! Don’t forget to make revisions frequently! Add, subtract, combine, and simplify until you are happy.

There’s so much opportunity for students to use as much or as little scaffolding as possible with year mapping. Students who are ready for a challenge can push themselves to make more symbolic, higher-level connections, while students who need scaffolding can use graphic organizers to help them visualize where to put information.

So let’s consider what each step of this reflection technique might look like in the classroom.

Students find brainstorming pages helpful for pre-mapping . However, one size doesn’t usually fit all. So, you can offer some options and have students pick the one that fits their categories best. I like to provide a couple of basic graphic organizers because it helps students to understand what I mean by “categories” of learning. Offering a blank option is convenient for abstract thinkers.

Year mapping graphic organizers for middle and high school

Next, students organize their ideas into a more purposeful arrangemen t. You can show them a variety of options, and let those be springboards for creativity. You can provide organizers or have students spend some time researching flow chart style organization for inspiration. Sticky notes work, too!

Encourage students to think about how they can show connections between important ideas and emphasize learning. Students can add arrows, shapes, and colors. This is usually one of the biggest coaching opportunities as you confer with students. Once students grasp the idea of how to categorize their learning, we can encourage them to get out of the “silo” mode. Those categories are connected to the larger picture… how ?

Digital year mapping example; creative reflection activity

Year maps can be digital (like the examples pictured above), or they can be print (my personal favorite!). It really doesn’t hurt to give students the choice if you have the means for them to complete the creative reflection either way.

When students complete year maps digitally or on paper, it’s important to stress that typically more than one page or one slide is needed to truly be comprehensive.

While the examples pictured so far have been for English Language Arts, this reflection technique really can be powerful in any subject area. See the example below, which was created by a ninth-grade math student.

Year mapping math example; end of year creative reflection on learning


You may find that adding a writing reflection deepens students’ thought process. Students can reflect on the effort they put into the class, on the parts of the course that were most rewarding and challenging, and on their contribution to the greater body of learning.

By including a writing component, students are encouraged to articulate the connections they made as well as identify areas where they could grow more. Naturally, this reflection process can lead to goal setting .

Set students up for productive written reflection by crafting questions that will lead them toward evaluating their learning and their work ethic. A thoughtfully designed written component has the potential to lead students to their best thinking.

For this reflection technique, I do provide content suggestions with a rubric , but I’m often pleasantly surprised with what students come up with on their own!

The reflective writing assignment should not lead to mounds of grading! Yes, students should always strive to be producing their best quality work, but for this assignment, I only recommend assessing ideas (if anything).

Engaging reflective writing assignment for the end of the year



If possible, working together on year mapping will provide more perspectives and associations, deepening the creative reflection process. From the brainstorming step to categorizing and emphasizing key ideas, students push one another’s thinking to new spaces.

Before asking students to create a map of their year, it may be helpful to show them some examples and ask them to evaluate the strengths and limitations of each.

Do the examples show clarity of ideas? Are the connections strong? Does the creator include enough high-quality examples and inter-lesson connections?

Having students walk through this evaluation process will make them more cognizant of the depth of their own thinking.


Like one pagers , hexagonal thinking, mind maps, and any other assignment that feels abstract and fuzzy at the outset, we as teachers will be able to lead our students through the process more effectively if we complete the work first! Before trying this reflection technique with students, I experimented with year mapping myself. In doing so, I realized I didn’t like what I came up with first.

Rough draft of creative reflection year map


Year mapping can be as low-key or as formal as you’d like. If you’re looking for a meaningful, creative reflection technique to prepare students for final exams, you probably don’t need to assess them. Likewise, if you just want a window into students’ learning from the year… (Did they make the connections you wanted them to? Have they really reached deep thinking about the standards? Where might lessons have not been as effective as possible?)… you probably don’t need to grade them.

However, if you’re using the year maps as a culminating project, I recommend using a rubric . You can identify categories and create proficiency scales with students, or you can define the success criteria yourself and discuss them with students while evaluating examples.

For the best results, coaching students throughout the planning, drafting, and revising process is the most valuable feedback you can provide them in terms of assessment. As you encourage them to make connections they haven’t, think deeper, and clarify ideas, students will have time to adjust and do the work they hadn’t yet completed.


Of course, one of the best ways to finish year mapping is to share the maps! Celebrate learning by having students display their maps or share highlights (favorite parts, most challenging learning experiences, and etcetera). Depending on your time constraints, this can be formal or a gallery walk style in which students have their work displayed, and peers walk around, leaving feedback. (Praises, questions, and ideas are helpful ways to guide peer to peer feedback.)

Year mapping is the perfect end of the year activity for reflection and review ! Of course, you can use this same concept at the end of a unit to make connections between smaller time segments as well.  Students can complete this activity in any amount of time, but the less time they have, the fewer connections they will make.

When students map their learning, everyone wins. Collaboration , critical thinking , and brain-based learning take center stage with this end-of-year reflection technique. End the school year meaningfully with learning maps !


“It was a great way to mentally assess the year. It not only helped me reflect on my own performance as a student but also helped me review the different topics that we studied throughout the year. When I was creating my map, I was unintentionally giving myself a brief refresher course that I will remember long after the individual lessons are forgotten. It was helpful to recap my ninth-grade learning before moving on to tenth grade. I know I will need these skills! This was a fresh way to remember the year and connect all of the dots in ways that I wouldn’t have noticed before.” – Elise, Freshman


If you are loving this reflection technique but don’t have the time to to put the scaffolding together, this starter kit will help you make it happen.

Year mapping is a creative reflection activity that prompts students to make connections between everything they've learned in a course.

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creative writing reflection example

Guide on How to Write a Reflection Paper with Free Tips and Example

creative writing reflection example

A reflection paper is a very common type of paper among college students. Almost any subject you enroll in requires you to express your opinion on certain matters. In this article, we will explain how to write a reflection paper and provide examples and useful tips to make the essay writing process easier.

Reflection papers should have an academic tone yet be personal and subjective. In this paper, you should analyze and reflect upon how an experience, academic task, article, or lecture shaped your perception and thoughts on a subject.

Here is what you need to know about writing an effective critical reflection paper. Stick around until the end of our guide to get some useful writing tips from the writing team at EssayPro — a research paper writing service

What Is a Reflection Paper

A reflection paper is a type of paper that requires you to write your opinion on a topic, supporting it with your observations and personal experiences. As opposed to presenting your reader with the views of other academics and writers, in this essay, you get an opportunity to write your point of view—and the best part is that there is no wrong answer. It is YOUR opinion, and it is your job to express your thoughts in a manner that will be understandable and clear for all readers that will read your paper. The topic range is endless. Here are some examples: whether or not you think aliens exist, your favorite TV show, or your opinion on the outcome of WWII. You can write about pretty much anything.

There are three types of reflection paper; depending on which one you end up with, the tone you write with can be slightly different. The first type is the educational reflective paper. Here your job is to write feedback about a book, movie, or seminar you attended—in a manner that teaches the reader about it. The second is the professional paper. Usually, it is written by people who study or work in education or psychology. For example, it can be a reflection of someone’s behavior. And the last is the personal type, which explores your thoughts and feelings about an individual subject.

However, reflection paper writing will stop eventually with one very important final paper to write - your resume. This is where you will need to reflect on your entire life leading up to that moment. To learn how to list education on resume perfectly, follow the link on our dissertation writing services .

Unlock the potential of your thoughts with EssayPro . Order a reflection paper and explore a range of other academic services tailored to your needs. Dive deep into your experiences, analyze them with expert guidance, and turn your insights into an impactful reflection paper.

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Free Reflection Paper Example

Now that we went over all of the essentials about a reflection paper and how to approach it, we would like to show you some examples that will definitely help you with getting started on your paper.

Reflection Paper Format

Reflection papers typically do not follow any specific format. Since it is your opinion, professors usually let you handle them in any comfortable way. It is best to write your thoughts freely, without guideline constraints. If a personal reflection paper was assigned to you, the format of your paper might depend on the criteria set by your professor. College reflection papers (also known as reflection essays) can typically range from about 400-800 words in length.

Here’s how we can suggest you format your reflection paper:

common reflection paper format

How to Start a Reflection Paper

The first thing to do when beginning to work on a reflection essay is to read your article thoroughly while taking notes. Whether you are reflecting on, for example, an activity, book/newspaper, or academic essay, you want to highlight key ideas and concepts.

You can start writing your reflection paper by summarizing the main concept of your notes to see if your essay includes all the information needed for your readers. It is helpful to add charts, diagrams, and lists to deliver your ideas to the audience in a better fashion.

After you have finished reading your article, it’s time to brainstorm. We’ve got a simple brainstorming technique for writing reflection papers. Just answer some of the basic questions below:

  • How did the article affect you?
  • How does this article catch the reader’s attention (or does it all)?
  • Has the article changed your mind about something? If so, explain how.
  • Has the article left you with any questions?
  • Were there any unaddressed critical issues that didn’t appear in the article?
  • Does the article relate to anything from your past reading experiences?
  • Does the article agree with any of your past reading experiences?

Here are some reflection paper topic examples for you to keep in mind before preparing to write your own:

  • How my views on rap music have changed over time
  • My reflection and interpretation of Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Why my theory about the size of the universe has changed over time
  • How my observations for clinical psychological studies have developed in the last year

The result of your brainstorming should be a written outline of the contents of your future paper. Do not skip this step, as it will ensure that your essay will have a proper flow and appropriate organization.

Another good way to organize your ideas is to write them down in a 3-column chart or table.

how to write a reflection paper

Do you want your task look awesome?

If you would like your reflection paper to look professional, feel free to check out one of our articles on how to format MLA, APA or Chicago style

Writing a Reflection Paper Outline

Reflection paper should contain few key elements:


Your introduction should specify what you’re reflecting upon. Make sure that your thesis informs your reader about your general position, or opinion, toward your subject.

  • State what you are analyzing: a passage, a lecture, an academic article, an experience, etc...)
  • Briefly summarize the work.
  • Write a thesis statement stating how your subject has affected you.

One way you can start your thesis is to write:

Example: “After reading/experiencing (your chosen topic), I gained the knowledge of…”

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs should examine your ideas and experiences in context to your topic. Make sure each new body paragraph starts with a topic sentence.

Your reflection may include quotes and passages if you are writing about a book or an academic paper. They give your reader a point of reference to fully understand your feedback. Feel free to describe what you saw, what you heard, and how you felt.

Example: “I saw many people participating in our weight experiment. The atmosphere felt nervous yet inspiring. I was amazed by the excitement of the event.”

As with any conclusion, you should summarize what you’ve learned from the experience. Next, tell the reader how your newfound knowledge has affected your understanding of the subject in general. Finally, describe the feeling and overall lesson you had from the reading or experience.

There are a few good ways to conclude a reflection paper:

  • Tie all the ideas from your body paragraphs together, and generalize the major insights you’ve experienced.
  • Restate your thesis and summarize the content of your paper.

We have a separate blog post dedicated to writing a great conclusion. Be sure to check it out for an in-depth look at how to make a good final impression on your reader.

Need a hand? Get help from our writers. Edit, proofread or buy essay .

How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: create a main theme.

After you choose your topic, write a short summary about what you have learned about your experience with that topic. Then, let readers know how you feel about your case — and be honest. Chances are that your readers will likely be able to relate to your opinion or at least the way you form your perspective, which will help them better understand your reflection.

For example: After watching a TEDx episode on Wim Hof, I was able to reevaluate my preconceived notions about the negative effects of cold exposure.

Step 2: Brainstorm Ideas and Experiences You’ve Had Related to Your Topic

You can write down specific quotes, predispositions you have, things that influenced you, or anything memorable. Be personal and explain, in simple words, how you felt.

For example: • A lot of people think that even a small amount of carbohydrates will make people gain weight • A specific moment when I struggled with an excess weight where I avoided carbohydrates entirely • The consequences of my actions that gave rise to my research • The evidence and studies of nutritional science that claim carbohydrates alone are to blame for making people obese • My new experience with having a healthy diet with a well-balanced intake of nutrients • The influence of other people’s perceptions on the harm of carbohydrates, and the role their influence has had on me • New ideas I’ve created as a result of my shift in perspective

Step 3: Analyze How and Why These Ideas and Experiences Have Affected Your Interpretation of Your Theme

Pick an idea or experience you had from the last step, and analyze it further. Then, write your reasoning for agreeing or disagreeing with it.

For example, Idea: I was raised to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight.

Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of research to overcome my beliefs finally. Afterward, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key to a healthy lifestyle.

For example: Idea: I was brought up to think that carbohydrates make people gain weight. Analysis: Most people think that if they eat any carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, and sugar, they will gain weight. I believe in this misconception to such a great extent that I avoided carbohydrates entirely. As a result, my blood glucose levels were very low. I needed to do a lot of my own research to finally overcome my beliefs. After, I adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation” as a key for having a healthy lifestyle.

Step 4: Make Connections Between Your Observations, Experiences, and Opinions

Try to connect your ideas and insights to form a cohesive picture for your theme. You can also try to recognize and break down your assumptions, which you may challenge in the future.

There are some subjects for reflection papers that are most commonly written about. They include:

  • Book – Start by writing some information about the author’s biography and summarize the plot—without revealing the ending to keep your readers interested. Make sure to include the names of the characters, the main themes, and any issues mentioned in the book. Finally, express your thoughts and reflect on the book itself.
  • Course – Including the course name and description is a good place to start. Then, you can write about the course flow, explain why you took this course, and tell readers what you learned from it. Since it is a reflection paper, express your opinion, supporting it with examples from the course.
  • Project – The structure for a reflection paper about a project has identical guidelines to that of a course. One of the things you might want to add would be the pros and cons of the course. Also, mention some changes you might want to see, and evaluate how relevant the skills you acquired are to real life.
  • Interview – First, introduce the person and briefly mention the discussion. Touch on the main points, controversies, and your opinion of that person.

Writing Tips

Everyone has their style of writing a reflective essay – and that's the beauty of it; you have plenty of leeway with this type of paper – but there are still a few tips everyone should incorporate.

Before you start your piece, read some examples of other papers; they will likely help you better understand what they are and how to approach yours. When picking your subject, try to write about something unusual and memorable — it is more likely to capture your readers' attention. Never write the whole essay at once. Space out the time slots when you work on your reflection paper to at least a day apart. This will allow your brain to generate new thoughts and reflections.

  • Short and Sweet – Most reflection papers are between 250 and 750 words. Don't go off on tangents. Only include relevant information.
  • Clear and Concise – Make your paper as clear and concise as possible. Use a strong thesis statement so your essay can follow it with the same strength.
  • Maintain the Right Tone – Use a professional and academic tone—even though the writing is personal.
  • Cite Your Sources – Try to cite authoritative sources and experts to back up your personal opinions.
  • Proofreading – Not only should you proofread for spelling and grammatical errors, but you should proofread to focus on your organization as well. Answer the question presented in the introduction.

'If only someone could write my essay !' you may think. Ask for help our professional writers in case you need it.

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Tips on writing creative reflections

By Sara Díaz, CAS Coordinator, International School of Bologna, Italy

IB Diploma Programme (DP) students are busy with their studies, extended essay (EE) reflections, Theory of Knowledge (TOK) presentations, internal assessments (IA) and various meetings. So, it can be hard for them to find time for Creativity, Activity, Service (CAS) reflections. Even asking students to upload evidence of reflection once every two weeks can be a lot of extra work. A CAS reflection is a summary and evidence of activity. It provides students the opportunity to share thoughtful, honest accounts of what they’ve gained during that period.

At the International School of Bologna , in Italy, we emphasize that reflections don’t have to be written. They can take on many different forms such as oral, pictures, conversations with CAS advisors, etc. But students mainly choose to write their reflections, which takes more time for some. For others, it may not be the best way to express themselves and more creativity is needed.

creative writing reflection example

Creative Writing: Reflective Journaling

by Melissa Donovan | Aug 5, 2021 | Creative Writing | 58 comments

creative writing reflective journaling

Reflective journaling cultivates personal awareness.

A journal is a chronological log, and you can use a journal to log anything you want. Many professionals keep journals, including scientists and ship captains. Their journals are strictly for tracking their professional progress. Fitness enthusiasts keep diet and exercise journals. Artists use journals to chronicle their artistic expressions.

A writer’s journal can hold many things: thoughts, ideas, stories, poems, and notes. It can hold dreams and doodles, visions and meditations. Anything that pertains to your creative writing ideas and aspirations can find a home inside your journal.

Today let’s explore an intimate style of journaling, one in which we explore our innermost thoughts: reflective journaling.

Creative Writing Gets Personal

A diary is an account of one’s daily activities and experiences, and it’s one of the most popular types of journals.

A reflective journal is similar to a diary in that we document our experiences. However, reflective journaling goes deeper than diary writing; we use it to gain deeper understanding of our experiences rather than simply document them.

Reflective Journaling

We all have stories to tell. With reflective journaling, you write about your own life, but you’re not locked into daily chronicles that outline your activities or what you had for dinner. You might write about something that happened when you were a small child. You might even write about something that happened to someone else — something you witnessed or have thoughts about that you’d like to explore. Instead of recounting events, you might write exclusively about your inner experiences (thoughts and feelings). Reflective journaling often reveals tests we have endured and lessons we have learned.

The Art of Recalibration is a perfect example of reflective journaling in which stories about our lives are interwoven with our ideas about life itself.

Reflective journaling has other practical applications, too. Other forms of creative writing, such as poems and stories, can evolve from reflective journaling. And by striving to better understand ourselves, we may gain greater insight to others, which is highly valuable for fiction writers who need to create complex and realistic characters. The more deeply you understand people and the human condition, the more relatable your characters will be.

Do You Keep a Journal?

I guess I’m a journal slob because my journal has a little bit of everything in it: drawings, personal stories, rants, and reflections. It’s mostly full of free-writes and poetry. I realize that a lot of writers don’t bother with journals at all; they want to focus on the work they intend to publish. But I think journaling is healthy and contributes to a writer’s overall, ongoing growth.

I once read a comment on a blog by a writer who said she didn’t keep a journal because she couldn’t be bothered with writing down the events of each day; I found it curious that she had such a limited view of what a journal could hold. A journal doesn’t have to be any one thing. It can be a diary, but it can also be a place where we write down our ideas, plans, and observations. It can hold thoughts and feelings, but it can also be a place where we doodle and sketch stories and poems.

I’m curious about your journal. Do you keep one? What do you write in it? Is your journal private or public? Is it a spiral-bound notebook or a hardcover sketchbook? Does journaling inspire or inform your other creative writing projects? Have you ever tried reflective journaling? Tell us about your experiences by leaving a comment, and keep writing!

Ready Set Write a Guide to Creative Writing



Hello. I keep writing refrective journal in Japanese. Now I’m trying to it in English. My dream is publish my book of English someday.Mamo

Melissa Donovan

English takes a lot of practice, even for us native speakers, but with time, patience, and commitment, you can do it! Good luck.

BJ Keltz

Except for a few short months following an interstate move in December, I’ve faithfully kept a journal for 24 years. It’s reflective, it’s prayer, it’s story starts, character sketches, research and notes, it’s sometimes a rant, and usually how I see the world and my take on life. There’s just no way I function well without the journal. It fills some deep need for reflection and observation, but also the need to physically write, which is soothing and mind-ordering for me.

Twenty-four years is a long time! I’m impressed. Wait… that’s about how long I’ve kept a journal too! However, I haven’t been that faithful about it. There are weeks and months when I’m writing so much in other forms (blogging, fiction, etc.), that my journal gets neglected. I admire anyone who can stick with it over the long haul. No wonder you’re such a good writer!


It is wonderful to know that others in this world feel this way. Journaling does seem to help me fell aggreable about the events and happenings that were wholesomel and settle the ones that were not. I never thought of writing as soothing and wondered about dragon voice recognition to do the writing for me, but it just does not have the right feel. So I have stayed with hand writing to record my experiences in this fleeting life.

I have to confess I’m not a fan of voice recognition software except in cases where it helps people who are disabled and cannot type or write. The act of writing, of putting words down on paper or typing them onto a screen, is how we learn vocabulary, sentence structure, spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Otherwise, we’re just dictating, and that’s not writing.

Yes, I definitely believe that journaling is good for working out problems and celebrating life’s blessings.


Just today I was visiting with my pastor about this very topic. He wants to journal so he could revisit his thinking from time to time but is too impatient with handwriting. He uses Dragon Writing for dictating sermons, etc. and mentioned he might try it for journaling as well. Whatever works! I’m a big fan of handwriting and I occassionally type journal entries, print them and glue them into my journal. My journals include bits of everything – handwritten entries about my life, copies of special emails, images and articles I run across, quotes, creative sign copy I see while traveling, etc. etc. I tend to keep a separate travel journals and include bits of info from local newspapers, promotional brochures, etc. Other than travel, I like to have everything in one journal.

I’m a one-journal person, too, although I have notebooks for various purposes: one for my blog, one for my client work, and another for a fiction project. I don’t consider those journals. My journal is for ideas, personal thoughts, and poetry. Keep writing!

Cheryl Barron

I was just thinking of putting everything in one journal. It drives me buggy to keep track of 20 different journals.(one for this,one for that)The reflective writing sounds helpful for a course I’ve been listening to on Podcast. Thanks!


I write essay and poetry, and I also keep a journal. I write stream of conscious sessions or dive into explanations of what I’m trying to say ina poem or essay. I also write book reviews and thoughts on what I’m reading. Rant too. All kinds of stuff.

I love stream-of-consciousness writing sessions too, although I usually call it freewriting. It’s the ultimate adventure in writing for me, and it generates so much great, raw, creative material. A really good session actually feels magical.


I’ve kept a journal since the early 1970s as a record of the things going on around me in my life, events, good and not so good things. It is a record of my life. I don’t know if anyone will read it after I am gone, but it has been handy for me at times. When I wanted to know when a certain event happened, I look back in my journal. Because people know I keep a regular journal, I have often had others call and ask me when such and such happened and I am able to find it.

I think your journal will be a wonderful record of your life, something you could pass along as an heirloom or donate to an archival library. I know lots of historical writers love to dig through those archives and learn about people’s lives. I think that’s so cool!

Thanks, but I doubt that it will ever make it into an archives. I will just be happy if my children and grandchilren appreciate it. I have read that people put all kinds of things into their journals, but this one is a life journal. That is one reason I started using some of your ideas for different kinds of journals. I have started a reading journal going all the way back to when I can remember reading, recording some of my experiences and favorite books and so on. I am doing in that way as more of a legacy in the hopes that someday my grandchildren who are avid readers (and possibly a few budding writers as well) will enjoy reading about their grandma’s reading adventures. It definitely has to be what works for a person, or they wouldn’t be motivated to write in it.

What a wonderful legacy — such a treasure. Your children and grandchildren are very lucky!

I agree your grandchildren are fortunate. I recently acquired a copy of my great, great aunt’s journal. It is priceless to me and gave me so many new insights into “pioneer days” when she and her family were traveling across the prarie during the land run in Oklahoma.

Jean Wise

I have kept a journal for years. It does reflect what is happening in my life but is more conversations with God, my hopes and dreams, my discernments and my frustrations. I know someday my kids will read them but on a whole I am very honest in them. One of the best habits I have is to ‘harvest’ them, rereading what I write and highlighting certain passage. Get double benefits from that.

I have my great Aunt’s 60 plus years of journal and want to do something with them someday. I have a friend who typed out all of his grandfathers journals, gleaned nuggets of thoughts and wisdom and published a book for his family. Isn’t that cool?

Thanks for good thought today!

I love the double benefits of journaling. In my family, there has only been one journal/diary that I know of and I believe they threw it away because it was full of so much smack-talk about other family members. I read it and didn’t think it was all that bad, but someone got offended and our little family heirloom got tossed. Ugh, what a shame. I kind of wish someone had redacted the offending passages and kept the diary. Anyway, yes, one thing about journals is that “one day someone will read them.” People need to keep that in mind. Thanks, Jean.

Hannah Kincade

I’ve been keeping a journal since I’ve been able to write. It was full of angst during my teen years, but since adulthood, it’s been mostly filled with observations and just whatever’s on my mind that day. Some could be called writing exercises, but I think they’re more like Morning Pages purging my mind of whatever ails it, to free it up for fiction writing.

I was a big teen ranter and whiner too (in my journal). I did morning pages for a while and enjoyed them very much, but I’m not a morning person, so eventually I switched. Now, I guess I write night pages, except I call them moonlight pages. Ha!


Hi melissa,

Great post! I do have a journal and I write there everything you have mentioned: ideas, thought, insights, things I observe around, small stories that come out of my mind in the middle of a train ride.

Regards, Fernanda

I love the multipurpose journal best of all. There are so many different types of journals — who needs a hundred different notebooks floating around? I’m right there with you, Fernanda, although I do have special notebooks for fiction and blogging. Everything else goes into my journal though.


Nice post with some great ideas. As to your questions, I guess I’m a journal slob too. My journal has a little bit of everything and I often put in story ideas and story beginnings. So you could say I get a lot of my writing from what began in my journal. As to what type of journal, I have recently started to keep mine at an online private journaling source, makes it really easy and convenient.

Thanks for posting this.

I’m curious about private online journaling. Do you worry about a third party having control over your journal? Do you back it up locally? I can’t journal electronically anyway. For some reason, I write all poetry and journaling (plus some fiction) longhand. I would love a tablet with a stylus!

I just started using the online journaling a couple of months ago. I use, supposedly they use the same encryption that the military uses plus you can lock your journals with two pass codes and no one is suppose to be able to access it but you, not even their staff. You can also download it or print it out at anytime. I use to journal on my computer, because I can type faster than I can write longhand. But constantly downloading to cd and having to upload it each type I wanted to use a different computer was a real pain. I’ve lost journals due to viruses or corrupted cd’s. This way it’s all backedup automatically so I don’t have to worry about losing anything, and I can access it from anywhere. It’s really nice.

Thanks, Tiffiny. I certainly see the benefits of storing a journal online. I guess everything will eventually move to the cloud. Normally, I’m all in favor of technological advances, but storing my stuff (journals, photos, music) somewhere other than my own hard drives is one advance I’m not crazy about. I like the idea, but I am fixed on having my own backup. Anyway, I’ll definitely look into That sounds pretty cool!

Nicole Rushin

I don’t go anywhere without my spiral notebook. I don’t really call it a journal, though. I write everything in it. From grocery lists to affirmations. I tend to think of a journal as being more personal. I cannot underatand a writer who does not keep some form of journal with them at all times. I guess they figure the good ideas will rise to the top.

I kind of understand the good-ideas-rise-to-the-top concept now. A while back, I started conceptualizing a novel and I would just think about my ideas throughout the day — for several months — and didn’t write anything down. And it worked. The best ideas stuck, so then I moved on to brainstorming and note taking. But generally, I write everything down and keep little notebooks stashed in places where I might need them in a pinch (my car, purse, nightstand).


I journaled frequently during our Peace Corps experiences in Ukraine and posted them on my website so they were availableto the public. I was amazed how many people followed them. I received many e-mails from total strangers who were living vicariously through my journals. When we returned to th euSA, we decided to do a stint in AmeriCorps*VISTA and because of my journals, someone contacted me and offered us wonderful housing (a housesitting arrangement) for the duration of our tenure. My journaling is generally reflective. I also do “morning pages” (a la “The Artist’s Way”)…these tend to be rants or details of my day or dreams and schemes and plans…these are private, unedited, quickly tapped out and I do not share them since they may be too intimate or revealing. (I use and write as fast as I can for 20 minutes every day – no editing and no thinking just hit it sister!) It is amazing to look back at my journals and relive my thoughts and obeservations. I recommend doing this kind of daily writing. It is cathartic, healing and helps one know themselves. Life is good. “Ginn” In Steamy SC (look for my Ukrainian journals there and my Malawi journals and find a link to my blog on my Camino from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela)

I will definitely go check out your journals and (I’ve never heard of that site). I love a fast, intense writing session with no editing. That’s where all my best material comes from.


I used to keep diaries when I was a kid and teenager. The ones from my teens were mainly public blogs and I wrote on them nearly everyday. In my twenties I’ve kept a private hardback journal where I write about experiences I don’t want to forget, feelings, stories, lyrics, doodles, rants, etc. I write pretty much anything I want to write about. Sometimes it helps me sort things out and other times it inspires me to write about something.

It is so weird to me that kids these days are keeping public diaries on their blogs. Blogs didn’t exist when I was a teenager (and I’m grateful for that!). When I was a teen and in my twenties, I always wrote down my favorite song lyrics (and made up plenty of my own too). What I love best about journaling is that anything goes. It’s my writing space, so I can write whatever I want there, and so can you!


Hi Melissa, I’ve kept some form of journal writing for years, but in a more deliberately conscious manner for about 8 years, in which I include, as you say, ‘free writes,’ which are so great for personal growth and awareness, as well as sudden insights about family and relationships and story ideas. I love my journal and, as I say, in recent years, keep it handy with me wherever I go.

That’s so interesting because I never get personal insights from my freewrites — just a lot of raw material that I can shape into something like a poem or song. I guess when I do focused freewrites, I solve problems, but in those cases, the freewrite has an intent (as opposed to just writing anything that comes to mind). That’s what I love about freewriting — there are so many different ways to use it.

Yvonne Root

This is the first time I’ve responded to one of your posts. Yet, you can rest assured that I read them faithfully. Why? Because, um, well, uh, because they are just so darn good!

I learn from you and enjoy the process.

Before I say how I use my journals, I must disclose that I am part owner of a business which sells guided journals as well as a home study course about how to get the most out of using a journal.

My first introduction to journal keeping came while I was in college. I treated the process poorly. I was a very bad date for my poor journal. You can say that while he was always faithful to me I certainly was not that to him.

Later, peer pressure from some very wonderful friends had me reaching for another blank book.

Now, well let’s just say my journals and I have become dearest of friends.

There is one journal which is different from all my others. I began it four years ago and there are only a few pages used. Yet, this journal is used faithfully as it was intended to be used. Once a year my granddaughter and I have a Christmas Tea. After our tea I record things about the tea and ask for her input. She will be six years old when we have our tea this year. This will be the first year her own pen will touch the page.

My desire is that she continue the Christmas Tea Celebration as well as the recording of the event after my death. Perhaps her mom or a friend will join her. Some day her own daughter may be her guest.

At any rate, the treasure she and I are creating together is worth more than any gold I might think of leaving her.

Thank you for your kind words, Yvonne. Your Christmas Tea Celebration and its accompanying journal is a beautiful idea. What a wonderful thing to share with the little ones. I think it’s a lovely tradition.

Kristy @PampersandPinot

Yes, I always keep a journal. My thing is to not put any rules on it or it stresses me out. So, it is chaotic, unorganized, pages ripped out, stuff written here and there, scribbles, magazine clippings stuffed inside, pictures stuffed in. Messy.

Rules are stressful, aren’t they? I find that sometimes rules promote creativity but other times (like in my own journal), they hinder it, so I’m with you Kristy — I like a messy journal.


Your post is wondeful!! I do have a journal about which i had forgotten for almost a month :/ Reading your post just reminded of the fact that it was only because of constant reflective writing in my journal that i realised that this (writing) was what i want to do for my entire life! Thank you 🙂

I think a lot of writers start out by keeping a journal. There’s something about journal writing that comes naturally to certain people, and it makes sense that they would go on to become writers.


I started to keep an everyday journal when I was going through a tough time (about 4yrs now), it was suggested to me and ever since I’ve been keeping one. It’s great to get things out,sometimes though it’s hard to put everything down because I’m afraid someone will read it (because they would if they found it).lol but I use my journal for writing thoughts, feelings about things and people,memories,dreams/nightmares, I write about events that have happened too good and bad, I do drawings,sketches,poems,favorite quotes, stick in fav pics etc. Basically a bit of everything!! I prefer leather bound journals with plain paper but at the mo I’m trying out an art blanc journal because the design caught my eye,not to fond of being restricted to lines though! 🙂 I hope I keep one on into my life,sometimes I forget how helpful it is.

Great post! 😀

Your journal sounds a lot like mine! I do have a suggestion for you. If you’re uncomfortable writing your private thoughts in your journal because you’re worried someone will invade your privacy, you might develop a code system or use images instead of text to express certain ideas. I used to use code names for people, and I would sometimes write certain words in another language or using icons. It also makes journaling a little more interesting.


I call my journals Daily Milestones, because that’s what life feels like to me. Even in the most mundane days where I don’t engage in many activities, I can still have an epiphany in some way or another. If I’ve had an activity packed day or week, then I can go off even more!

I also like titling each entry with something witty like Planting Seeds in the Sandbox because it sometimes keeps the focus and intent of a certain entry. That one in particular is about how life is like a giant sandbox and how we, like children, like to play different roles. We plant “seeds” of our imagination to sprout into our reality.

When I first started keeping a journal in 2009, my entries would just be positive messages and revelations about life, but as time went on, they became more personal. I began writing about actual events in my day rather than just abstract inspirations. It felt odd to write about what happened in my day and even more weird to write how I felt about different aspects of the day and my life. I realized if I’m not gonna be honest with myself, especially where I have all the space and time to do so; what chance would I have with being honest with other people or in my creative writing?

It’s really helpful as a fiction writer to keep a journal because I notice a lot of recurring themes to write about: Reminders of how to remain on the path of truth and virtue amongst the many others that would take too much space in my post. One thing I find is how I judge/commend other people. When I write about other people they feel like they become fictional characters because of how I pick apart their faults and qualities. It helps me see them multidimensionally and transfer that realism in the characters I create in my stories.

And of course all this leads to a massive insight to self discovery as I find myself revisitting old entries just in case I’ve strayed from the path.

Thank you, Marlon, for sharing your experience with reflective journaling and explaining how it has benefited you as a writer, storyteller, and human being. What a wonderful testimonial!

sue jeffels

Hi Melissa, sounds like your reflective journal is much like mine, with ideas, lists, doodles and plenty of free writing and first drafts of poem. I also note down story ideas and scraps of conversation or a phrase from someone else’s poem or story – so I suppose mine is a journal cum writer;s notebook. I also have a pad specifically for things to do and also my diary and when I look through they also seem to be combination of things, sometimes including pitching ideas and client requests.

Thanks, Sue. I love learning about how other writers use their journals, notebooks, and other writing tools. I’m glad you shared yours!

Bill Polm

Hi Melissa,

I have been filling sketchbooks for years as a way of developing my watercolor painting skills, but I am a writer too, so inevitably I worte abd write a lot too, sometimes more than I sketched. Currrently, my main journal is a sewn-binding refill from Renaissance-Art. I have about 14 of them filled. I use mostly the 5.5 x 8.5 size and put my own hardbound covers on them when done, usualy with a sketch or writing on it and imitation leather trip. I use them for sketches on the spot or from photos, like a scrapbook at times, pasting in photos and this and that. An yes, resflections, insights, acconts of evens and trips, just about anything.

Good post, as usual. Thanks.

Hi Bill! Even though I can’t see your journals, they sound beautiful! I love when words and art come together.


I honestly don’t keep a journal,but I periodicaly write in a tablet ideas for new story development. ps.I have a book out the title is THE SIR DAVID THOMAS SERIES.Perhaps it may be something you would like to read.

A tablet or notebook could be considered a journal.


Honestly, i also don’t keep a journal, but I’d write my story ideas, probable developments of them , brainy quotes by others in every-day life and any interesting observation in my phone, laptop, or on a variety of papers (which do not form a notebook in whole!). But I have a separate notebook to jot down ideas for my thesis research report. I guess I’ll keep on writing my creative notes also in future in the same manner.

Yes, now with all these electronic devices, I think a lot of writers’ notes are becoming spread out. I use Evernote, which syncs to all my devices, including my computer. It has tons of great features — for example, you can clip stuff from the web. You can also create multiple notebooks.


Hi Melissa, Personally, I love keeping journals. I have multiple journals for different things. My private journal is just a regular composition notebook where I write down basically all my thoughts and things that happen to me. Occasionally, I paste pictures and articles. Another journal I keep is a spiral-bound notebook where I write down ideas, poems, short stories, etc. I have a couple of those, and I tend to read through them from time to time. I find it helpful to keep journals, that way, I can see the progress I’ve made over the years.

I love flipping through my old idea journals. I often find little treasures that I’ve forgotten about! Sometimes I even find an old idea that I’m now ready to use.

Marcy N

As silly as it might sound to some, I have MANY journals I keep at once. Of course, I have many to begin with and have been journaling since 1983…I have a journal of daily quotes filled with awe inspiring quotes from famous or important to me people. I journal of family history stories for when the thoughts and memories arise, I record them. My everyday (but not always every day) journal filled with intimate and inspiring yet sometimes dark and dreary moments in life. I have two journals (one for each of my children) loaded with photos and stories of important and important to me events to record in each of their lives. I have a Christmas and Thanksgiving journal so I can record each and every holiday and gathering with family and friends and including the preparing and gift giving. A travel journal that I use to prep for journeys and attach receipts and pics and business cards. I must not forget to mention the Bibliophile Reader’s Journal to record books I am reading so that I remember the most important details from each. An honorable mention is the Homes I Have Lived In Journal where I sketch out each home’s floor plan and add pics from our old albums to depict a room that just happened to be in old photos we took. One might ask, why so many as opposed to combining all in one? My simplest answer is; each journal represents a complex chapter in the Life of Me.

That’s awesome, Marcy! What a wonderful collection you’re creating.


I have already been trying to experiment on different types of journaling method since I was a child. My family knew how attached I have always been to notebooks.However, I would always find it too tedious to keep different notebooks for different aspects of my life. Finally, at 2018, I discovered the bullet journaling method. That was when I realized that I could actually keep an all-in-one journal. Currently, my bullet journal houses my ideas, my Bible reading and book reading reflections, and my thoughts. It also serves as my diary. But probably the most treasured part of my journal is Dream Notes section where I keep my most memorable dreams. That is because I would usually have weird and vivid dreams that sometimes serve as reflections of my current mental or emotional state. Other times, those dreams could be excellent sources for stories and poems. I’m always amazed of what my mind could conceive while I’m asleep. So I keep them recorded in my journal.

I use a variation of bullet journaling too. I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now (just ordered my third one) and it’s been pretty awesome. I use mine strictly as a planner, calendar, and tracker. I’m not sure I’ll keep all those journals; they’re mostly full of work-related stuff. So I like to keep my creative journals separate. I love notebooks too. Can’t have too many!


  • Top Picks Thursday! For Readers and Writers 07-14-2016 | The Author Chronicles - […] and craft can be improved in many ways. Melissa Donovan shows the power of reflective journaling, and Jordan Dane…

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Examples of Reflective Writing

Types of reflective writing assignments.

A journal  requires you to write weekly entries throughout a semester. May require you to base your reflection on course content.

A learning diary is similar to a journal, but may require group participation. The diary then becomes a place for you to communicate in writing with other group members.

A logbook is often used in disciplines based on experimental work, such as science. You note down or 'log' what you have done. A log gives you an accurate record of a process and helps you reflect on past actions and make better decisions for future actions.

A reflective note is often used in law. A reflective note encourages you to think about your personal reaction to a legal issue raised in a course.

An essay diary  can take the form of an annotated bibliography (where you examine sources of evidence you might include in your essay) and a critique (where you reflect on your own writing and research processes).

a peer review  usually involves students showing their work to their peers for feedback.

A self-assessment task  requires you to comment on your own work.

Some examples of reflective writing

Social science fieldwork report (methods section), engineering design report, learning journal (weekly reflection).

Brookfield, S 1987, Developing critical thinkers: challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting , Open University Press, Milton Keynes.

Mezirow, J 1990, Fostering critical reflection in adulthood: a guide to transformative and emancipatory learning , Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Schön, DA 1987, Educating the reflective practitioner , Jossey-Bass. San Francisco.

We thank the students who permitted us to feature examples of their writing.

Prepared by Academic Skills, UNSW. This guide may be distributed or adapted for educational purposes. Full and proper acknowledgement is required. 

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How To Write A Reflection Statement – A Step-By-Step Guide

Do you know how to write a reflection statement? In this post, we give you a clear process for writing reflection statements.

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Do you know how to write a reflection statement? Reflection statements are tasks that will increasingly be part of your assessments. In the past, reflection statements were only set for Extension 2. Now they will be commonplace in Advanced English for both Year 11 and Year 12.

In this post, we will demystify reflection statements and give you a step-by-step guide to producing statements that will impress your teachers!

What is a Reflection Statement?

A reflection statement is a complementary task that will accompany other assessment types. A reflection statement requires students to discuss the process of producing the associated assessment task.

In a reflection statement, students need to explain why they made the decisions they did. The reflection statement also offers the student an opportunity to say what they think they did well, or did poorly. Students can reflect on what they would change if they could do it over.

If you want to learn more about why self-reflection is such an important skill for students, you should read this excellent article by Cathy Costello at Virtual library .

Why can’t you give a specific definition of what reflection tasks involve?

The exact nature of the reflection task will depend on the assessment task you’ve been asked to reflect on. To give you an idea of this, we’ll look at some examples of the tasks that reflection statements might accompany and what the reflection statements need to address.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of tasks where you could be asked to provide an accompanying reflection task.

How long is a reflection statement?

This will vary.

English Extension 2 reflection statements need to be 1500 words. If you’re not doing English Extension 2, it is unlikely that you will be required to produce something that long.

The tasks you will be set for English Advanced will range between 300 and 800 words. Most reflection tasks will be on the shorter side of things at around the 400-word mark.

Need help perfecting your reflections for Module C?

Learn how to write insightful and constructive reflections with our structured online video lessons, quality resources, and forums to ask your Matrix teachers questions and feedback! Learn more about Matrix+ Online Courses now. 

creative writing reflection example

Where will I encounter reflection statements?

You will be set reflective statements throughout Years 11 and 12. They can be attached to any assessment task for any Module.

However, due to the nature of the Common Module: Reading to Write it is likely you will be set one to accompany the main writing task for that Module.

Similarly, in Year 12, Common Module: Texts and Human Experience and Module C: The Craft of Writing are the most likely Modules where you will be asked to reflect on your process of composing.

Remember, there is no limit on how many reflections you will need to produce as they supplement a larger assessment task. You may need to write as many as two in both Year 11 and Year 12.

In the HSC English Advanced Paper 2 (from 2019) and HSC English Extension 1 Paper, you may be asked to write a composition and a reflection statement.

If you study English Extension 2, this is a mandatory accompaniment for your major work. (Please note, while the process discussed in this post is similar to the one for producing an Extension 2 reflection statement, it does not discuss the research and referencing components that you need to complete for an Extension 2 work).

Clearly, it is important to be confident writing reflection statements. Matrix students learn how to produce reflection statements and get help refining them.

The secret to producing killer reflection statements is to follow a process when writing them.

What we’ll do now is look at the process for how to produce ace your reflection statement.

How to write a Reflection Statement – a step-by-step guide

Like everything in English, there is a process you can follow to produce a reflection statement. Even though the specific task may vary. The process for writing the reflection will largely remain the same.

The process for writing reflection statements looks like this:

How to Write A Reflection Statement Step-by-Step

Step 1: Produce the main piece of work for the assessment

Reflection statements are never tasks in and of themselves, they supplement the main task. You will not be able to produce your reflection statement until you have completed and edited your main task.

If you are stuck on your main task and need help, you should read our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English  for detailed advice on all aspects of Year 11 and 12 English.

This can be useful. You may well discover that your reflection statement makes you reconsider some of your choices in your main task. In the process of writing your reflection statement, you may decide you need to redraft your main work.

This is one of the key purposes of writing a reflection statement. It forces you to consider what you have produced and the process of producing it. This is a key part of editing and improving your work.

Step 2: Read the assessment notification

Once you’ve produced your main piece of work, you need to revisit your assessment notification. A task that involves a reflection statement will come in two sections:

  • Section 1 will be the instructions for the main task;
  • Section 2 will be the instructions for the supplementary reflection task.

Rereading the notification is important as it will help you check that you have completed the main task correctly. It will also tell you exactly what you need to do for the second part of the task.

Step 3: Read the marking criteria

For every assessment task that you are given, you MUST be given accompanying marking criteria. Marking criteria are very important. They tell you explicitly what you need to do to get full marks for a specific task.

Reading through the marking criteria at this point serves two purposes:

  • You can double check that you have addressed all the criteria for a Band 6 result for your main task.
  • You can see what you need to do to achieve a Band 6 result for your reflection statement.

Your reflection statement may have very different requirements for a Band 6 mark than your main task. It is important that you are aware of the differences.

Step 4: Unpack what the reflection statement needs you to discuss for a Band 6 result

Now you’re familiar with the notification and marking criteria for the assessment task, you need to get these understandings down in writing.

To do this, you need to take a few steps:

  • Read through the instructions for the task and highlight or underline the keywords (these will usually be the verbs and nouns in the instructions).
  • Now you want to write these words down and define them. If you are unsure of a what a word means, that’s okay. Look it up. This is how you expand your vocabulary.
  • Next, do the same for the marking criteria. Underline what you feel are the keywords and terms. Again, write them down and define them.
  • Now you need to write down what you need to do for a Band 6 result. To do this, write down the instructions in your own words. Include what you need to do for a Band 6 mark in this instruction. Be sure to make note of whether this is meant to be written informally or formally, in the first or third person. You must follow the instruction regarding form for these tasks.

Now you’ve unpacked the question. This means you are now equipped to answer the question you’ve been set.

Next, you need to revisit your main task so you can see what you’ve done and evaluate how you’ve put it together.

Step 5: Reread what you have produced for your main task

Your reflection statement will require you to explain the choices you’ve made in your main composition.

You may not have thought too much about these things when you produced the work. And this is fine. It just doesn’t help you with the reflections statement.

If this is you, you need to read your work with an eye on how you have conveyed information. You must unpack how you have presented your ideas. Essentially, you need to reverse engineer your writing through textual analysis.

Some useful questions to ask yourself when doing this are:

  • How does my work address the assessment instructions and marking criteria?
  • What am I trying to convey here?
  • How does this part of my work address the marking criteria?
  • What technique have I used to convey meaning?
  • Why have I used that technique?
  • Could I have conveyed this idea differently? Would this have been more effective? Why?

Make notes while you do this. You want to be able to refer back to your findings in detail when you write the reflection statement.

Once you’ve finished this, you’re ready to start planning. By now you should have:

  • A detailed breakdown of what your task requires you to discuss in your reflection statement and how to discuss it.
  • A detailed set of notes about the piece you have produced for the main task.

Step 6: Plan your reflection statement

As with any task, you want to plan things before you get stuck in. Planning your work forces you to consider what information you must include and how you will structure that information in your response. This is an important part of the critical thinking process.

Reflection statements need to have structure, too.

You need to ensure that you introduce your ideas clearly, then expand on them, and, finally, summarise and conclude your statement. Even if you only need to produce a 250-word paragraph, you still need to ensure that it follows the conventions of composition structure. You will lose marks for presenting idea soup.

To plan your response, you’ll need to get your notes on the task and your notes on your response together. Then:

  • Read through your notes on the question. Remind yourself what you need to discuss in your reflection statement.
  • Write down what you will discuss in your reflection statement.
  • Now you need to think about what parts of your main task you will discuss. To do this, refer to your notes about your main task. Ask yourself, “which parts of my task are most relevant to what the task is asking me to discuss?”
  • Note down what you think will be the order for presenting your reflection. For example, you may want to start with your structural decisions before discussing your use of techniques or you may want to discuss your influences before discussing your ideas.

Once you’ve got your plan together, you’re ready to write. Matrix students get advice on their assessment tasks from their Matrix Tutors and Teachers. It might be helpful to ask a peer or parent for their thoughts if your school teacher can’t provide advice.

Step 7: Write your introductory statement

The length of your introduction will be contingent on the specifics of your task:

  • If your reflection statement is less than 400 words, you will need to produce one or two sentences.
  • If you are writing a longer reflection statement of more than 400 words, you will need to write a short introduction.
  • If you are producing an Extension 2 reflection statement, this will need to be a longer and more detailed introductory paragraph.

When writing your introduction, you must:

  • Introduce the topic you will discuss;
  • Explain how this reflects on the work that you are discussing;
  • Make reference to the Module you are studying.

Once you have produced your introduction, you are now ready to develop your discussion and discuss the specifics of your main piece of work.

Step 8: Write the body of your argument

Now you’ve introduced your subject matter you need to start presenting an argument. Even though you are reflecting on your own work, you still need to use examples to demonstrate how you’ve set about responding to the main task.

You will need to present several examples to support your argument, but the number of examples will vary depending on the length of the task you’ve been set.

For a shorter reflection, try to present two or three examples and discuss them in detail. If you need to produce several paragraphs, you should be aiming at around four per paragraph.

To do this:

  • Introduce the idea you were trying to convey (this might be an influence on your work, a technique you’ve tried to use, or a theme you’ve tried to explore).
  • Present an example of this idea.
  • Explain how you have attempted to use or explore this idea.
  • Explain how this addresses the instructions and marking criteria for the task.
  • Explain how this is relevant to the Module you are studying.
  • Comment on other choices you could have made and why you didn’t use the other option.
  • Repeat this for each example that you need to support your point.

Once you’ve done this, you need to conclude your reflection.

Step 9: Write your concluding statement

Your final statement needs to address the broad idea you have discussed in your response. It will need to be at least two sentences. A longer reflection will require a longer concluding statement; if you had a separate introduction you will require a separate conclusion.

To write your concluding statement:

  • Summarise the key ideas that you have discussed.
  • Make a statement about what you have taken away from your study of the Module and the process of producing this task and reflecting on it.

Now you need to revise what you’ve written.

Step 10: Proof and edit your work

It is really important that you proof and edit your work before submitting. You don’t want to throw away marks on typos and unnecessary grammatical errors. Proofing your work is something you must do after you finish any task.

To proof your reflection statement:

  • Reread your summary of the notification of the task and the marking criteria.
  • Read your reflection statement aloud.
  • Whenever you encounter a mistake or a sentence that sounds ungrammatical, correct it.
  • Pay attention to the logic of your argument. Does it make sense?
  • Ask yourself, have I addressed the instructions for the task?
  • Ask yourself, have I addressed the marking criteria for a Band 6 response.
  • Redraft your reflection statement in its entirety. Don’t submit your first draft. Your second draft will always be better.

If you would like to know more about the editing process, you should read Part 7 of our Beginner’s Guide to Acing HSC English: How to Edit Your Work .

Now you’ve finished a second draft you can submit. If you can, you should try and get some feedback. Matrix students get regular feedback from their Matrix Tutors and Teachers. Feedback on your work allows you to take somebody else’s perspective and use it to improve your marks.

creative writing reflection example

Written by Matrix English Team

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creative writing reflection example

What Is Reflective Writing?

Suraj and Simon are two high school students who had to team up for a class project. Within a few…

What Is Reflective Writing?

Suraj and Simon are two high school students who had to team up for a class project. Within a few weeks of working together, both of them realized that they have differing views about the project and can’t collaborate together. They communicate this with their teacher and the teacher asks them to reflect on the past few weeks—identify the challenges and write down the pain points that led them to their decision.

In this scenario, the teacher tries to help both Suraj and Simon out by encouraging them to practice self-reflection. An essential workplace skill, self-reflection is fundamental to our growth and development. Reflective writing is a great way to rewind your life and look at it from a different angle.

Meaning Of Reflective Writing

The process of reflective writing, importance of reflective writing at work.

Before we look at the various meanings and examples of reflective writing, let’s understand what the term ‘reflection’ stands for. At its simplest, reflection refers to a mental process that helps in processing and articulating events from the past. It’s a careful consideration of our thoughts and beliefs as we assess our assumptions and reactions to a certain event. Thanks to reflection, we’re able to process emotions and act and move forward in a thoughtful way.

Reflective writing requires you to analyze, describe and evaluate past situations. By evaluating experiences, you’re able to develop new insights that are instrumental to developing new outlooks. Recollecting instances from your past and writing them down is a fruitful way of examining your response to an event. Thinking about how it affected your life and how you could do things differently are the cornerstones of self-improvement.

Here are a few examples of reflective writing in everyday situations:

Self-review or peer reviews

Feedback about a program, reflective journal or log at work, the process of reflective writing.

As we’ve already established, reflective writing is a mental process involving contemplation and consideration. Before we look at the process involved in reflection, let’s look at the factors that influence your reflective writing style.

Why are you writing it?

Are others going to read it, how do you feel about writing, what are the emotions you’re experiencing, how capable are you of writing reflectively.

Now that you’ve considered multiple factors, let’s look at the important focus areas when it comes to reflective writing.


Provides information about what you’re reflecting on—it can be a personal experience or a topic.


You need to focus on the event, idea or analysis that you feel is most important. For example, identifying whether your previous job experience was good or bad.

Without takeaways, your reflective writing piece remains incomplete. Understand what you’ve learned and what you’re going to focus on, going forward.

Reflecting on work experiences is crucial as it helps us think about the realities of our work environment and where our strengths and weaknesses lie. In addition to identifying personal areas of growth, it helps us develop career ideas. For example, interviewers often ask job seekers questions such as ‘where would you like to see yourself in five years?’ Reflective writing helps in crafting answers and seeking out information that tells us where our interests, passions and values lie.

If you’re preparing for your next job interview, use this reflective writing format as a template.

<Introduction: Talk about why you were part of the event, the daily activities associated with it and the relevant experience you gained.>

<Main Body: Describe your past accomplishments and how your performance made a difference. Provide examples of any new skills or knowledge you acquired. Provide relevant details of how you applied your skills and gained new experiences.>

<Conclusion: End your reflection with an explanation about how the past experience was. Talk about how it helped you and how it contributed to your professional development.>

Everyone has their own style of writing and that’s the best part about it. Having your unique writing style adds flavor, especially when it comes to self-reflection. If you want to sharpen your writing skills and deliver your thoughts with clarity, turn to Harappa’s  Writing Proficiently course. This online writing course will help you structure your thoughts, polish your writing style and teach you to write clearly, concisely and compellingly. The Pyramid Principle in particular will help you present key points of messages upfront with supporting evidence. Discover how to tell a story with every communication you draft!

Explore topics such as What are  Written Communication  Skills, Different Types of  Writing Styles , Examples of  Descriptive Writing , What is  Narrative Writing , Common  Persuasive Writing  Techniques & The Importance Of  Expository Writing  and learn to draft well-crafted messages to convey your ideas and intentions.


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HSC Creative writing reflection cheatsheet: with examples!!

Completely lost on how to write a reflection for module C HSC? We got you. A step by step guide on how to write the perfect reflection piece, with template structures and exemplars! It really is the ultimate cheatsheet.

3 months ago   •   5 min read

What is a reflective text in the HSC?

NESA doesn’t provide a definition for what reflective text is. However, they do define reflection as:

“The thought process by which students develop an understanding and appreciation of their own learning. This process draws on both cognitive and affective experience.”

This includes the following features:

  • Use of first person to express self-assessment
  • Use of evaluative language ( my metaphor was effective in... )
  • Considered use of examples ( this means quoting your own work )
  • Use of anecdotal references, imagery or metaphor
  • Explanation, description or justification of the use of specific language or stylistic devices
  • Connections between what students learn about writing and the writing that they craft
  • Self-awareness of the learning process

Essentially, the reflection is designed to get you critically thinking about your own writing choices. It also gives you the chance to justify to the marker the stylistic choices you made and point out hidden nuances they might have missed.

So how do you write a band 6 reflection?

1) answer the question.

2023 MOD C Question 3. (b)

Justify how the stylistic choices you have made in part (a) demonstrate the hope that comes with anticipation. In your response, make detailed reference to your writing in part (a).

Like an essay, your reflection should still have a logical structure with a strong 'thesis' like a start and linking sentences that connect back with the question. Now this year they didn't ask you to reference your prescribed text (and you won't be penalised for not mentioning them at all!) but you can if you still want to. What is important however is that throughout your reflective piece, you are exploring the stylistic choices you have made and linking them to how to help communicate your ideas of hope and anticipation.

The term stylistic choices is very broad meaning you can almost write about anything! To ground yourself, centralise your writing around these three macro narrative elements.

  • Characterisation

How did you use language (syntax, metaphors, alliteration, dialogue) to create a certain character/setting/tone? And by creating this particular character/setting/tone, how did that influence the message you are attempting to communicate with your reader? With reference to the 2023 HSC reflection question, how did your depiction of character/setting/tone demonstrate the hope that comes with anticipation?

This isn't the only right approach and there are a million other things you can talk about but it is a good way to start thinking if you are feeling lost.

2) Introduction

Reflections should still have the same intro, body, and conclusion structure as essays. It's a good idea to have a template in mind going into exams so you can focus on the actual analysis in your body paragraphs.

Your introduction must consist of three things which I like to split up into three sentences. A very simple three-sentence introduction.

  • The aim and purpose of your piece.
  • How you were influenced by your prescribed text?
  • How through this influence, you made stylistic choices to communicate your purpose. (In other words, TECHNIQUES!!)

My (insert text type) (insert title) aims to (insert key message of your piece). I was influenced by (introduce prescribed text and author) whose (what did the author do that influenced you?) to explore (insert their key message). Hence, by mirroring their use of (insert the stylistic devices you were influenced by) I employed (insert your main techniques) to (connect back to your purpose).

My imaginative magical realism piece, "The Calling" aims to highlight the importance of having ambition in order to sustain a meaningful and satisfying existence in capitalism's mundane and bleak chokehold. I was influenced by Franz Kafka's novella "Metamorphosis," whose comedic dialogue and dynamic characterisation developed an effective satire that propounded his commentary on 20th-century existence. Hence, by mirroring Kafka's satire, I employed situational irony and hyperbolic language to...

3) Body paragraphs

For exams, you should prepare at least 2 body paragraphs, three if you want to be extra prepared for a heavily weighted reflection question however those are extremely unlikely. The typical expectations to follow per mark distribution are as follows;

  • 5 marks - 1 page (One big body paragraph or super condensed essay. One or two sentences for the intro, one body/main point, and one or two final concluding sentences for the conclusion)
  • 8 marks - 1.5 ~ 2 pages (Three sentence intro, two short paragraphs, 2 quotes each, conclusion)
  • 10 marks 2 ~ 3 pages (Three sentence intro, three short 2 quote paragraphs or two big 3 quotes, conclusion)

How should you base your body paragraphs?

The main way I recommend you structure your paragraphs is through macro stylistic choices. What I mean by this is to choose two or three big things your text does. For example, you can have your first paragraph about setting, then tone and characterisation. Then within that use quotes that display the micro techniques you used to create said setting/tone/characterisation.

Other ideas could be having your first paragraph about your use of irony throughout the text, then include examples of how you used hyperbole or dialogue to create this irony. Then your next paragraph could be about the main motif in your and the metaphor and imagery used to develop this motif.

Basically what you are doing this thinking about what are the macro stylistic devices that run throughout your piece and how are they developed with micro stylistic devices.

*Remember PEEL is still your best friend here.

In order to explore this apathetic and creative paralysis, I develop a dichotomous depiction of creativity (technique) to examine the idea that individuality has disintegrated and original perspectives have lost meaning amongst the proliferation of literature in an overwhelming digital context. Inspired by Spotty Handed Villainesses (reference prescribed text) , I employed a nostalgic pathos-evoking anecdote to highlight the importance of reading to the human experience. The imperative metaphor “I am an amalgamation of tales” (quote 1) portrays the individual ability to have creative perspectives as limited to their ability to read. Influence continues into Atwood’s binary exploration of the angel/whore split enticing me to examine creativity dichotomously as not the ‘freedom’ to invent but rather a constrained ability to extract from our experiences. The cliche “all there is to know is at the touch of our fingertips” (quote 2) utilises the synecdoche of ‘fingertips’ to illuminate the way technology has degraded the individual experience of perspective; with everything given to us we have lost the desire to explore and as a result, we have lost our source of creativity and ability to function meaningfully as an individual.

Basically, you are analysing your own writing here, just like how you analyse normally, except in first person and with a tone of reflection (very important)!!!

4) Conclusion

Your conclusion doesn't need to be too much. For a band 6 response, you should have been continually drawing conclusions and insights throughout your body paragraphs already. This means, you only need one or two sentences at the end to sum everything up.

You want to address the three key points from your introduction;

  • Restate your aim/purpose.
  • Influence from prescribed text.
  • Main stylistic choices.

Ultimately, by drawing upon the [stylistic device 1] and [stylistic device2] used in [prescribed text], I have effectively conveyed [your key message].

Remember to also connect back to the question!! This can be done in another sentence if necessary.

Another example:

Therefore, my imaginative piece evokes the emotions associated with hope and introspection through manipulating language structures such as syntax and imagery, drawing stylistic inspiration from Nam Lee's ‘ Love, Honour, Pride ’.

creative writing reflection example

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How to Reveal the Creative Process Through Reflection


For many visual art teachers, time with students is precious and fleeting. Sometimes you have less than an hour with students before they’re gone and a new crop of students come through the door. There’s barely enough time to finish a project, let alone stop and reflect on the work.

However, as educators and as artists, we know just how valuable it is to take time to reflect on and to make revisions to our work.

So how do we build reflection time into our classroom routines? And how do we use that time to help our students better understand the creative process? Let’s find out.

student thinking

Why is it essential for students to recognize the value of process?

Our society values products and outcomes, but often ignores how we get there. But artists grasp the value of the process, which comes from the research, planning, and execution of a piece of work. An understanding of the process not only allows for growth and learning but also for a more authentic presentation of work and self. It’s how artists can push boundaries and move beyond the simple reproduction of an object and into the creation of new works of art.

Additionally, understanding how they’ve gotten from point A to point B helps our students build cognitive functions and processing. The development of an iterative process that looks at where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go, holds immense value. Pausing to reflect helps to guide this journey.

Recording the Creative Process

One way I’ve found to help students reflect on the creative process is to have them record it. While that may sound daunting, I assure you it can be done.

At my school, the 6th-grade students work with the drama teacher, the dance teacher, and me on a rotating basis, spending eight sessions with each teacher before moving on to the next. After the students have worked with each teacher, we bring them back together and work as one large group on an interdisciplinary collaborative project. It’s a creative format that allows for experimentation and flexibility, but it also moves quickly!

It was through this project we figured out how we could have students document their process through daily reflections. Our goal was to allow them to look back on their work and see how they’d incorporated projects and concepts from all three disciplines.

The daily reflections were so successful; I’m considering doing them with all of my classes.

student working

If you’d like to try something similar, here’s what to do:

1. At the end of each class, set aside five to seven minutes for students to reflect on the day’s activities.

2. Have students snap a quick photo of their work. This can be done on an iPad or with a digital camera or another device. If you don’t have the technology available in your classroom, you can also have students do a quick thumbnail sketch.

3. Have students respond to one or two prompts in writing.

You might consider asking things like:

  • What was your inspiration for the project/work you completed today?
  • What was the biggest challenge you encountered on the project?
  • How does this project tie together previous exercises and concepts from the class?
  • What was your favorite part of class today?

At my school, we can to do this type of reflection using a discussion thread (private to the individual student and teachers) on our school’s learning platform called Schoology . This platform makes the whole process extremely easy. After the students make their entries, we can respond with clarifying questions, informal feedback, critique, and positive affirmations.

student reflection

The value of these reflections and individual journals has been extremely beneficial to us, as teachers.

Creating this back and forth dialogue with the students has allowed us to:

  • See which students are connecting with which concepts and which students seem lost or unengaged
  • Direct students to refer to earlier work and connect threads between the different disciplines
  • Create dialogue around student work and process as we respond to their entries
  • Get to know the students better
  • Look back on student work while writing comments and grades
  • Provide evidence to administrators of the creative process our students have gone through and the ways our classes are building student thinking and analysis skills

If your school doesn’t have a learning management system that supports this type of back and forth dialogue, you can set up something similar through a private classroom blog or even through a set of sketchbooks. Anything where students are writing and recording can provide valuable documentation.

An Alternate Approach: Cutting Back

For my other classes, my schedule is more traditional, as I see my students on a consistent basis. Even so, I feel a rush to get through project after project during the course. After seeing how formal reflection positively informed my teaching, I worked on making shifts with my Art Foundations class, a survey class for 7th and 8th-grade students.

One of the first things I did was to make a conscious choice to let go of some of the projects in my curriculum.

Even though there are lots of fun projects I want to do with students, the extra space to breathe is more important. I wanted to create room to build in reflection and journaling but was worried about kids not taking the reflections seriously, or giving little thought to them.

If you’re having similar thoughts, I would encourage you to start with exit slips . In my experience, these can serve several purposes. First, they allow you to gauge how much the students are enjoying particular projects. Second, they give students a chance to have a voice and participate in the structure of your work. Finally, and most importantly, they provide a moment for students to pause and reflect on their work.

When starting out, simple prompts work best. You might want to try things like:

  • A particular challenge for me was…
  • An awesome success for me was…

Once students are comfortable with simple feedback forms like this, you can move onto more extensive reflections. For example, you can post things like essential questions and enduring understandings on the board throughout a project. In this way, you can remind students what they should be thinking about while working. This method helps keep students in the mode of process and reflection, rather than just creation.

questions on board

The most important piece of this, ultimately, is building the artistic skill of reflection artists use as part of the larger creative process. Tangible documentation of the process allows students to see their progress and understand their, and others’, thinking. Seeing the process reinforces that progress is being made and solidifies understandings of technique and skill. There are many methods of reflection, and while the ones I’ve shared have worked for me, I am always considering how to expand on them.

How is the creative process revealed in your classroom?

What ways do your students reflect on their work?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.

creative writing reflection example

Raymond Yang

Ray Yang is the Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion of NAEA and a former AOEU Writer. They believe the arts can change the world.

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