How to Write a Reflective Essay with Sample Essays

How to Write a Reflective Essay with Sample Essays

Step One: Choose a Topic Idea

If you haven’t been assigned a topic, look at my table below for an idea, or go after the link to the right about 100 Reflection Topic Ideas.

Example: I’m visiting my mom who lives near the beach that I went to a lot growing up, so I’m going to write about that.

Step Two: Examine your Subject

Depending on your topic, you may need to close your eyes and reminisce, read, see, listen or imagine. Spend a few minutes vividly thinking or experiencing your subject.

Example: I went to walk along the beach today and just liked the sand, water, and wind. I thought about many other beach walks I’ve taken and packed my mind with memories of other beach trips.

Step Three: Brainstorm

Write down everything you can think of about your subject. You want to describe this subject as vividly as you can, so think about smells, tastes, noises, and tastes along with what you see. Attempt to write down vivid adjectives which describe these sensory practices. Look at the “Sense Describing Words” chart for help. You can write this in sentences or just phrases. Just get as much down as you can. Later you will turn this into a paragraph.

Example: I see the roll of the swings coming in a roar up to the shore. The swings strike over and over on the beach. Each wave is the same and yet every wave is unique. I witnessed the sun covered by a cloud which reflected the light so that rays spread out in all directions. The salt smell of the drizzle felt fresh and clean. The cool foam of the edge of the wave covered my feet as they sank down in the sand. I walked along swinging my sandals in one mitt. I took pictures of the sand, the gulls, the swings, then embarrassed, I took a selfie of myself against the ocean swings.

Step Four: Pick Reflection Questions

Look at my list of “Reflection Questions” below and pick at least Three you want to reaction.

Example: I pick the questions: What did I notice? What does this event mean to me? How did this place form my life?

Questions for Reflection

  1. What did I notice?
  2. How did I feel about this?
  3. Why did it make me feel this way?
  4. How was my practice of this unique to me? How did others who were there practice it differently? Why?
  5. How has this switched me?
  6. What might I have done differently?
  7. What is the meaning of this event in my life?
  8. How is this similar to something else that I’ve experienced?
  9. How can I use this to help someone else?
  10. How does this event relate to the rest of my life?
  11. How is this typical in my life?
  12. Was this a good or a bad thing for me?
  13. How did this practice foretell things that would happen later?
  14. Was my practice the same as someone else’s or different?
  15. What abilities did I learn?
  16. How can I apply what I learned to my life?
  17. How can I apply this practice to my studies?
  18. How can this help me in my career?
  19. What about this practice challenged me socially?
  20. In what way did this expand my understanding of my own culture? or a different culture?
  21. How was this emotionally significant? or emotionally difficult?
  22. How did this practice relate to my understanding of theology, God or religion?
  23. What questions did this practice make me have?
  24. How has this switched the way I think?
  25. How has this made me realize someone else was right?
  26. How was this unexpected? Or how did this fulfill my expectations?
  27. Would I want to repeat this practice?
  28. Would this practice be the same if I did it again?
  29. How did this affect me and why?
  30. Why did I have the reaction I did to this?

Step Five: Response Questions

Read your question and then response it. This doesn’t have to be in a formal essay form or flawless sentences. You just want to get as many ideas down as possible.

  • What did I notice?I heard the call of the seagulls and the sound of families calling to one another. Couples walked forearm in palm. Parents played in the sand with their children. I eyed the slots in the sand where I knew sand crabs were scrambling to hide. I noticed the cool wind on my face and the homes right up against the sand.
  • What does this event mean to me? Often, when I visit my mother, I never actually make it to the beach, even tho’ it is just a few miles away from her house. I’m usually too busy helping her or spending time with relatives. This tour, however, a friend of mine named Rhonda, who is also a caregiver to her mother, told me to go to visit the beach for her. As a native Texan, Rhonda has only gotten to visit the beaches in California a few times. So today, I w ent to the beach for Rhonda. I smelled the beach air and walked along all by myself and took an hour to not think about responsibilities to others. Then I wrote “For Rhonda” in the sand and took a picture of it.
  • How did the beach form my life?I’ve gone to the beach ever since I was a little damsel and have many family memories of walking along the beach with my father looking for shells. When I went through the fights of growing up, I reminisce feeling soothed by the sways. They always seemed to keep on going. That reminded me to not give up. To know that there is always something to look forward to ahead. To reminisce that laughter and tears are both a part of everyone’s life. To me, the flaps reminded me to have faith in a God who is in control of everything and has a fatter purpose for me than I can imagine.
  • Step Six: Determine Main Meaning

    Only one thing is left and you will be ready to write your essay. You need to determine what is the most significant thing that you learned from this practice, or what is the memory you will carry with you. That “most significant thing” will be the thesis of your paper.

    Example: What I learned from this tour to the beach is that I need to recall that in the midst of being a caregiver to my mother, my hubby, my five kids, my students and my friends, that I also need to care for myself and create a space for myself where I can rest and renew.

    Sample Essay

    If you’d like to see the final essay I’ve written using the pre-writing exercises I’ve done for this essay look at Reflective Essay Sample on a Visit to the Beach .

    Two Things You Must Do

    1. Vivid summary and description of the practice, place, imagination or reading so that your reader feels they have also experienced it.

    Two. Explanation of your thoughts, feelings and reactions about this practice.

    How to Write a Reflective Essay with Sample Essays

    Step One: Choose a Topic Idea

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