Putting pen to paper or typing out your thoughts can help you slow down and identify the most essential aspects of your thought processes for reflection.
There are a range of benefits that can come from writing that might help you with your reflection. While it might seem effortful to either put pen to paper or to type your reflection up on a phone or computer, there are distinct differences between speaking and writing that can make writing a great tool for reflection.
The act of writing will slow down your mind and help you focus
When writing purposely, we tend to become more conscious of our words compared to speaking. It takes longer to write a sentence than it does to say it, and therefore we slow down our thinking. By forcing us to stay with each sentence longer, writing allows us more time to think about the particular sentence we are writing.
Moreover, when thinking we sometimes get carried away with random thoughts, but by writing down our thoughts we are given something tangible to focus on, and if we ever lose the thread we can read the last sentences and pick up the thought again. This can help you focus on the meaning of what you are writing and support the conscious examination of thoughts in general or around an experience.
This also means that you might be more careful in the way you select what is essential as you can more easily weigh up each sentence before putting it in writing, compared to when speaking.
You can examine your thoughts and revisit them
When writing reflections it allows us to take a bird’s-eye view. You can take a step back and revisit thoughts by re-reading what you wrote.
Moreover it works as a thoughts record. Your thoughts and feelings about an event will change over time, and therefore being able to read these and your learning outcomes can support you in maintaining the learning.
A few other benefits
It is challenging to capture all the ways in which writing may benefit reflection, but below are a few other benefits of writing down your reflection:
- Writing on your phone or in a journal that you keep in your pocket or bag makes it always available.
- If you are writing personal reflections – it’s private (unless a nosy sibling steals it!)
- It allows for a continuous relationship with self, where you can write and revisit as you please.
- It provides a record of learning and development.
Typical types of reflective writing
When using reflective journals to be shared with others
|Post-it notes (or scrap paper)
How to improve your reflective writing
As with anything, practice makes you better and makes the process feel more natural. Moreover, seeking feedback from others will help you. So whatever way you choose to write down your reflections, you can always hone your skills and develop your reflections by sharing them with other people.