5 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Reflective Essay

A reflective essay sounds easy to write until you sit down to do it. The point of this type of writing is to reflect on a personal experience. It should be a critical examination. It is much like a diary entry. Unlike a diary page, other people will read the essay.

You can let your stream of consciousness flow in a private diary, but you must have a coherent structure when writing a reflective essay.

It takes time to develop your writing skills. The good news is that a little research now can help you reduce the number of edits and rewrites needed later. The following list reveals common mistakes that you should avoid when writing a reflective essay.

Diving Right in Without a Plan

Your reflective essay needs a plan. Take some time to brainstorm subjects with a focus on coming up with something interesting and original. Approach the process like traveling to a new city. You wouldn’t go somewhere new without directions or GPS to guide you. Your plan will serve as your directions. They will help you stay on-topic, so you arrive at your destination.

Having No Structure or Organization

Structure and organization are also important in a reflective essay. You may need to describe events or share thoughts to prepare the reader for what comes next. Doing this in the wrong order can be confusing.

Make sure everything is well organized so that the reader stays engaged, and the flow feels smooth and natural. Your writing should have clear direction to accomplish your goal.

Not Giving the Right Details

A reflective essay needs details to pull the reader in. You need to give enough to make it interesting. The details should be relevant to the story or idea. If you share too many unrelated details, you could lose the reader. Your words will start to meander, and your experience could be lost among a sea of excessive information.

If a detail feels extraneous, it is probably best to cut it from the essay. You should have just enough there to illustrate events in a clear, precise, and interesting way.

Making the Essay Sound Generic

Your reflective essay should sound original. If you use generic words, phrases, and ideas, then it won’t grab the reader’s attention. Create something that is authentically yours. Give it a personal touch to make it interesting.

What that touch is will vary, but it should speak to your experience and what it meant to you. This is also a good way to give your writing a human element that establishes a connection with the reader.

Not Writing for the Reader

Consider your audience before you start writing. What is their education level? Are you using words and phrases that they will understand? You shouldn’t cram big words into your writing just for the sake of having them there. Use language that’s easy to understand. Your audience shouldn’t struggle to comprehend what you are saying. If they have to repeatedly look up words, then it will break up the flow and make them less inclined to finish reading.