Reflective Writing Definition and Prompts

Jennifer Betts
Young woman writing in a notebook

The writing process is all about experiences. Reflecting on your experiences and events is important. Therefore, reflective writing is not only important for personal and technical writing but to improve your creative writing as well.

What Is Reflective Writing?

As you can probably guess from the term itself, reflective writing is about self-reflection. You are looking at your experiences, knowledge, values and events in your life and reflecting on how they molded your world view. You are taking the time to consider your thoughts and feelings in such a way to achieve greater clarity and understanding, discerning meaning and context.

This allows you to explore your attitudes, values and goals in a deeper sense, going well beyond simply stating fact and offering a strict description. While you might do this for your own personal use, it is also used in education in the form of essays.

Constructing Your Response

While reflective writing can take a number of forms, you can typically break it down into the following areas or sections.

  • Describe: Look at the what happened.
  • Analyze: Examine every angle of the experience or thought. Explore your feelings and perspectives. Were you changed? What caused a change? Did the event or experience challenge your ideals? If so, how did you respond and how did that make you feel?
  • Learn or Change: Consider what you learned or how you changed. How can or did you use this knowledge to grow?

Reflective Writing Prompts

When you are engaging in self-reflection and writing about it, you might approach different areas to reflect upon by starting with writing prompts.

Personal Values

When you are reflecting on yourself, remember you want to examine your thoughts, actions and feelings. Evaluate why specific feelings or changes have happened and what you have learned. How has this shaped you? How would you have done something differently?

  • How has your view of the world changed in the last year?
  • When was the last time you were complimented? How did it change your outlook?
  • What skills make you unique?
  • How has your education modified your perspective?
  • What is your future goal?
  • What is something that you are looking forward to tomorrow?
  • What is one good thing that changed your attitude today?
  • What do you value most?

Relationships

Writing prompts for relationships look at your interactions with those around you. They explore how these interactions have shaped you as a person. You also examine how you can grow from them.

  • Who was your hero as a child? Who is it now? Did it change, and if so, why?
  • Who is someone you look up to? What is it about them that appeals to you?
  • How did an interaction with a stranger change you?
  • Have you ever changed someone? If so, did you change them for the better or worse?
  • How are your relationships with family and friends different? How are they similar? Why?
  • What is your ideal romantic relationship?
  • What qualities are important to you and why?

Experiences

Experiences shape who you are. Therefore, reflective writing prompts for experiences examine how that experience molded you, changed your view or hardened you in some way. You also need to delve into what you learned from the experience comparing and contrasting what you knew to what you learned. It is important to reflect on ways you could have acted differently or how you might use what you learned in the future.

  • What childhood memory haunts you?
  • What is your favorite memory? Why?
  • How have you grown or changed in the past five years?
  • What is an accomplishment from your childhood that you were most proud of?
  • What is an accomplishment you made in the last year you were proud of?
  • How did a bad experience change your viewpoint?
  • When was the last time you were content with your life? Why were you content? What has changed?

Looking in a Mirror

Reflective writing is like looking in a mirror and analyzing a small facet of your life. Whether it is about your values, experiences or even relationships, you need to understand what you learned and the knowledge you gained. This is a path to greater self-exploration.

Reflective Writing Definition and Prompts