Reflective writing

I am familiar with reflective writing since early years of schooling but now, as I am starting the work on bereavement support, I find it useful to go back to the basics of everything. What really is reflective writing? Are there processes one could follow? What is the goal? For many years I was convinced that reflective writing is really writing down all my thoughts as they come, but never consider the basic truth behind it: it is an analytical exercise, not a form of creative outlet. A writing is reflective is we describe an event, but also our emotional reaction to it and oftentimes also include follow up an action, commitment or learning of some kind. So it’s not just writing for the sake of writing but a form of analytical journaling, really. And yes, there are models worth checking out. Below are the two I am using for my Cruse course at the moment:

Before an experience:
  • What do you think might happen?
  • What might be the challenges?
  • What do I need to know or do in order to be best prepared for these experiences?
During an experience:
  • What’s happening now, as you make rapid decisions?
  • Is it working out as I expected?
  • Am I dealing with the challenges well?
  • Is there anything I should do, say or think to make the experience successful?
After an experience:
  • What are your insights immediately after, and/or later when you have more emotional distance from the event?
  • In retrospect how did it go?
  • What did I particularly value and why?
  • Is there anything I would do differently before or during a similar event?
  • What have I learnt?
  • Description – what happened?
  • Feelings – what were you thinking and feeling?
  • Evaluation – what was good and bad about the experience?
  • Analysis – what sense can you make of the situation?
  • Conclusion – what else could you have done?
  • Action plan – is it arose again what would you do?

I combine both and sometimes follow them, on other occasions mix some steps as long as I feel that at the end of the writing process I have actually learned and grown from the experience. I find this part of my studies really easy but I do have to work on the actual habit of regular writing: making time and space for it, sitting down and doing it no matter what state I am in. The point is to capture thoughts and learnings daily, really, and I am yet to get there. Soon;)

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