It is crucial to incorporate reflection into my writing process. Reflection requires me to slow down, adopt a mindset of curiosity and not knowing, take personal responsibility and tolerate messiness (Porter 2017). Further, reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amid the chaos, untangle and sort through observations, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning (Porter 2017). Practicing conscious reflection can make my writing process more effective as it aids in understanding purpose and thus making sound decisions about how to structure and smoothly shape my writing.
I will use reflection as a tool for processing, making meaning, and perhaps most importantly, improving. It is not sufficient to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting on this experience it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost (University of Birmingham 2015). Research from across the disciplines shows that people who use active reflection in their approaches to learning and to work are better equipped to respond effectively to tasks. Research by Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and Bradley Staats in call centers demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect (Porter 2017). One question I’ll ask myself in each new writing situation is: What am I avoiding?
University of Birmingham (2015) also provided a great graphic with questions I can ask myself in each new writing situation:
Porter, Jennifer. 2017. “Why You Should Make Time For Self-Reflection (Even If You Hate Doing It).” Harvard Business Review (March 21). https://hbr.org/2017/03/why-you-should-make-time-for-self-reflection-even-if-you-hate-doing-it
University of Birmingham. 2015. “A Short Guide to Reflective Writing.” University of Birmingham Library Services. https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/as/libraryservices/library/asc/documents/public/Short-Guide-Reflective-Writing.pdf
Comment by Jarrett Vigil:
I like how you mentioned reflecting each day after work. This is a technique I like to use, especially in very technical jobs, because I allows me to reconsider things I may have struggled with that day. Doing this after heavy studying is also very beneficial because I can take the concepts I am learning and play them like a movie in my head. After doing this I try to make an example of my own to ensure I understand the concepts clear enough to explain them. This extra attention to detail has really helped to better understand hard concepts and topics after reading and rereading them without a full understanding.
Thanks for the commentary. Yes, setting aside time after work to simply free write into a journal is a great idea. The consistency of doing it everyday is useful as it translates from considering ways oneself could have done something better after the fact to proactively recognizing opportunities to do something better in the moment it is actually happening. I imagine journaling at the end of the day while being in a technical job or a graduate student will make it so that you can organize aspects that would otherwise be more overwhelming. Great point that it enhances memory as well. Journaling geared towards personal growth does come out as a story because it entails, at the least, displaying the events and a proximal reflection. It clarifies that cause and effect relationship between actions and outcomes. It is definitely true that having to organize our thoughts on paper brings a heightened understanding to them.