What is reflective writing?
- Reflective writing involves documenting, questioning and assessing your practice.
- It is usually written in the first person (I, me, my) because it discusses personal experiences.
- Focus on key events rather than trying to cover everything.
- This could include positive or critical incidents ‘which we interpret as a problem or challenge’ (Bassot, 2016, p. 42).
- A basic pattern (see below) involves describing what occurred, reflecting on why this might be significant and what has been learnt, and thinking about your next actions.
Where will I use reflective writing?
1. Reflective journals
- Similar to a diary, it records your thoughts about events or experiences.
- Think about highs, lows and future actions.
- Reflective journals can track your progress and aid writing personal statements or CVs.
- Gibbs’ (1888, cited in William, Woolliams and Spiro, 2016, p. 91) cycle can aid detailed reflection. See the sequence below.
- Description: What happened?
- Feelings: What were you thinking or feeling?
- Evaluation: What was good or bad about the experience?
- Analysis: What sense can you make of the situation?
- Conclusion: What else could you have done?
- Action: If it arose again, what would you do?
- See a reflective journal by a past NUA Fine Art student: http://hannahjohnstonart.tumblr.com/
- View artists’ blogs pages at a-n The Artists Information Company: https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs
- Tip: Delaying writing can make it difficult to remember events. Instead, set aside regular times for reflection.
- Sketchbooks may include initial drawings and ideas, design development, sources of inspiration, technical information, material samples and experiments.
- Overall, they act as a space to ‘pause, record, reflect, move on’ (Greenless, 2005, p. 13).
- As part of recording, use annotation to document process (what materials, processes or techniques were used), analysis (why you did it) and evaluation (how effective it was).
- Evaluations reflect back on a completed project; this may include stages such as aims, research, experimentation and final outcomes.
- They also involve considering both strengths and weaknesses.
- Try the SWOT analysis framework (below) to get started.
The following sources were used for this page:
- Bassot, B. (2016) The reflective journal. 2nd edn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
- Greenless, K. (2005) Creating sketchbooks for embroiderers and textile artists. London: B. T. Batsford.
- Moon, J. (2006) Learning journals. 2nd edn. London: Routledge.
- Stobart, J. (2011) Extraordinary sketchbooks. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.
- The Guardian (2016) Inside Grayson Perry’s sketchbook. Available at: www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/feb/19/inside-grayson-perrys-sketchbook#img- (Accessed: 22 May 2019).
- Williams, K., Wolliams, M. and Spiro, J. (2012) Reflective writing. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.