Reflective writing is a novel concept to me and one, that I find quite deep and interesting. However, I have been able to understand from the writing workshops I attended during my gap year that, reflection is needed to create a strong and well-written piece. For me, reflection occurs when a writer is able to look within his/her self after observing (looking outside) texts, people, scenery among others, in order to review, revise and restructure a draft until it becomes a strong and complete work. In academic writing, observing texts is instrumental in acquiring strong textual evidences needed to write essays and articles. Textual evidence is so important, it appears everywhere both on evaluated papers, in classroom conversations and even Writing textbooks.
Textual evidence is used to support claims or ideas a writer makes based on the text being analysed. In order to support an argument, a strong textual evidence should be in place to back up the claim. However, what comes after observing texts, analysing texts and writing essays but also, comes before editing ? Reflection. Reflection is a vital component that must be included in a writer’s rhetorical strategies and decisions. Why? The answer is simple. Reflection is indispensable in helping a writer connect more to his/her audience and properly project his/her purpose to them. Every step you take in the writing process has been calculated and measured therefore precision and optimised performance is achievable.
Reflective writing differs from other types of writing in the sense that it puts you in the position as the reader. You get to play the other role and check your piece of writing for ambiguity, lack of intent and purpose or weak structure One is expected to think deeply about your word choices, sentence structure, rhetorical devices, language rhythm and paragraphing. Metaphorically, the reflection process is like a game of chess. Every move, a writer makes, even as they make it should be well thought of so that they do not make a deadly mistake. You have to make sure your pawns, which happen to be your rhetorical elements and employs are set in place ready to take action and win. In this case, win is synonymous to winning over the reader or audience to your argument.
Before now, I always used to think to let the ideas jump out to the paper and overflow; to let the creative juices overflow. I used to think that reflection or overthinking might jeopardise the constant flow. Now, I know that it is one thing to brainstorm and it is another thing to think and reorganise the ideas from every brainstorming activity. I say so with confidence, because reflection lights up the bulbs on your brain and helps you walk around with direction instead of flailing aimlessly upon heaps of confusion, indecision and uncontrolled effusion of ideas. to reflect on every idea pitched and try to give reasons for every construct.
Writers should be able to do personal Q&A as they write as this would make the reflection process less burdensome. Ask questions like “Why this word choice”? “Does this sentence connect to the previous one”? For reflection to work, a writer must be in a place where they feel at home and at equilibrium with their inner being. They must feel like they are reaching into their intellectual beings, and this is important especially, in academic writing. It is also advisable that the writer should be in a state of tranquil, in a place that reflects the intended ambience the writer can excel the most in. For me, I am able to be serene and meditate in places where nature is alive and bursting with vigour and energy. Specifically, in places like the night time beach to quiet restaurants with waterfront views, to leisure and recreation parks and resorts; I would find the muse in me.
Moreover, reflection helps to develop self-awareness and prepares the mind to be acutely and actively conscious. It helps the writer to stay on track and helps he/she refrain from aimless meandering and losing purpose. It also helps he/she evaluate their piece of writing and define every move they take as writer when working on a piece. It fuels persuasive strategies and clearly defines one’s motives so that they know the tactic to employ to draw their readers in. If reflection is properly utilised, a writer would be acquiring and developing the skills needed to influence and convince their audience.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that critical thinking which employs the use of cerebral analysis and calculation helps differentiate reflection from aesthetic meditation. It encourages the use of inference and deduction from evidences in order to create responses based on evidences and facts. Reflective writing is similar in the same way but while critical thinking, reading and writing is the whole, reflection is a part.