Strategies for Starting Reflective Essays

Select any or all of the following strategies for starting a reflection paper:

• Remember—Recall a person, place, experience, or thing that has always interested you. Close your eyes, ransack your memory, freewrite to bring it closer for more speculative examination:

My paper route wound up 68th street north of State, fourteen houses on one side, a deep fenced-in gravel pit on the other—which meant fourteen fewer customers on that stretch of the route. When I returned home from college last year, the gravel pit had been transformed into a supermarket with acres of parking all around.

A reflection on growing up, change, progress, modern supermarkets?

It's up to the writer.

• Seek out—Look for something or someone specific about which you've already had questions or strong opinions. Examine this person, place, or thing carefully. Look at it from many sides. Take good notes so that you could reproduce it accurately in your essay.

Whenever I visit the Church Street Mall, the first thing I look and listen for is the clarinet man, settled in a corner by the fountain, case open, bobbing and weaving and playing his horn with closed eyes. When he's not there, the mall seems smaller, the shopping less interesting.

A reflection on music, malls, shopping, street people?

• Notice—Observe the commonplace that catches your attention. The advantage of common, over spectacular, subjects is everyone has some experience with them and is automatically curious to see what you make of them. At the same time, you need to make sure your reflection itself goes beyond the commonplace and introduces readers to new dimensions or perspectives.

Have you ever seen the man—or maybe it's a woman— who empties the coins out of the parking meters? Neither have I. Makes you wonder, doesn't it, when and how they do it? Or are all the meters connected to this central pipeline, sort of like a sewer pipe, that drains the money every day?

A reflection on the city, unusual occupations, machines, money?

• Ask why—Write out as many questions as you can think of, maybe a whole journal page about whatever it is you've remembered, visited, or noticed. Circle those with local or physical manifestations. See which ones you would like to try to answer.

Why do cockroaches live only in cities? Do they live only in cities? Is there such a thing as a country cockroach? What makes these huge bugs so indestructable? And why do people hate them so?

A reflection on bugs, people, relationships, evolution?

0 0

Post a comment