My backgrounds are in journalism, creative writing, and education. I am or have been a teacher of dance, yoga, meditation, writing, health, history, and theatre. When I homeschooled my beautiful daughters for 18 years, I even dabbled in teaching science and math!
Regardless of the subject or setting, I ask students to pause on a regular basis and actively reflect on what they have learned. That reflection usually requires
- writing about the experience of learning
- examining how the learning fits into the current state of things for a student
- how the newly acquired knowledge can be used in the future
This written self-exploration is what constitutes reflective writing over basic journal keeping. All forms of journal writing have value in my opinion. We are going to address journaling from this perspective to help you as a writer clarify your thoughts about life and work.
What Is Reflective Writing?
Reflective writing differs very little from other terms such as journaling, expressive writing, and creative journaling. What it does offer is a perspective on the practice of keeping a journal that defines the action as a way to collect, dissect, and reflect on a vast array of things. Everything from daily life to business documentation to emotional venting is fair game to go into a journal, but the sense of being more responsive to the writing and the events qualify journal entries to be considered reflective.
If you’re already a fan or regular practitioner of journaling, you will understand when journal therapy teacher Kathleen Adams says,
“There’s a friend at the end of your pen which you can use to help you solve personal or business problems, get to know all the different parts of yourself, explore your creativity, heal your relationships, develop your intuition…and much more. (13)
Essentially, reflective writing differs from basic journal writing because the writer writes about an experience, writes about any feelings, emotions, or ideas attached to the experience, then moves beyond the original experience to learn more and repeat the reflective writing practice.
What Are Journal Springboards?
What if you’re new to the idea of journaling, have reservations, or don’t know where to start? That’s where the “Springboards” journaling technique comes in handy. It’s the practice of responding in writing to a prompt, an unfinished sentence, a question, a “what if” statement, and it is a wonderful tool to keep the pen moving across the page or the fingers punching the keyboard.
How Do Springboards Help Writers Journal?
“What should I write about?” (a springboard in its own right,) isn’t a problem where springboards are present. They are easy to answer and easy to create. Simply write about whatever pops into your head in response to a springboard.
Let’s Ink About It Journal Activity
Choose a springboard prompt from the list and journal about it for at least 250 words or as long as you like. Do this as many times as you wish. Once a day for a week is a great way to establish a journaling habit. Simply pick a springboard, copy it into your journal and write free form without stopping. Remember to keep building on ideas as they pop up for you, and keep a lid on the inner critic!
There are three things I want to accomplish (today, this week, this year, etc.) are…
Right now, I’m feeling…
What I value most in my relationship with ___ is…
I’m proud of myself for…
Today was a (great, lousy, hectic, etc.) day because…
What I really want from ____ is…
I need to set better boundaries in the ___ area of my life because ___, and this is how I’m going to do it and why.
The best part about being me is…
The worst part about being me is…
If I could meet someone I haven’t seen in a while, it would be ___ and I would tell them…
Upcoming Online Workshop: Writer Wellness
I hope you’ll join me in June for an online workshop on Writer Wellness hosted by the Yosemite Romance Writers. It’s open to everyone and the cost is very reasonable in my opinion!
All good things,
Women with clean houses do not have finished books. ~JEH
Adams, Kathleen. Journal to the Self: Twenty-two Paths to Personal Growth. Grand Central Publishing, 1990.