What Is Reflective Writing?

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  • Written By: Dee Jones
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2019
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In purely descriptive writing, an author will write a description of a person, place, object, or event. In reflective writing, the writer doesn’t only describe his subject or topic, but he also writes about how it makes him feel, what his opinion of it is, or the impact it might have had on his life. The purpose of this kind of writing is to help a writer explore and reflect on his own thoughts, feelings and experiences, which can make him better able to share his insights with others in both fiction and nonfiction pieces. For individuals, journals and diaries are ideal for reflective writing sessions. Many professionals, like physicians, therapists, teachers, and even business managers, urge their patients, students, and employees to give reflective writing a try.

Those who keep journals or diaries will find that reflective writing has many benefits. When writing about an unpleasant past experience or situation, the writer can confront his thoughts and feelings about it, and put the incident into the proper perspective. Many people also find that writing reflective pieces helps them to learn from present experience so that they deal with things in new, more positive ways.


Reflective writing is used by professionals in many fields, especially medical professionals and educators. A physician might encourage a patient to write in order to help him cope with his illness and treatment. Many therapists give patients writing exercises as a form of writing therapy. Through reflective writing, a patient can confront his fears, explore his feelings, or even learn to deal with traumatic events. Teachers often give students reflective writing assignments as part of the curriculum. A student in a reading or literature class might be asked to write about how a poem they read made them feel, while a student in a history class might be asked to give his opinion of the actions taken by a historical figure.

While reflective writing is commonly used by individuals, it can also be used in groups. In a classroom, students might be asked to write a reflective piece about a subject and then to read the piece aloud to the rest of the class. This exercise can demonstrate how different people can see the same thing in different ways. In a business setting, an employee might be asked to write a report on how well he thinks his team did on a particular project, and what improvements can be made when working on the next project.


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