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Reflective Writing - Practice and Ethos

Writing as a tool for self-development

· Psychotherapy

Reflective writing serves the purpose of increasing self-awareness and self-knowledge so its is by definition subjective. This is different from simple journaling. Reflective writing is about exploring concepts and thoughts. In this context, there is no such thing as ‘the truth’, there’s always a multitude of truths. So the knowledge we write about is fluid and always changing. Key to this knowledge is awareness, which can of course be self-awareness. The knowledge and understanding become available to us, only if we articulate them appropriately. Writing with the purpose to articulate self-knowledge is a skill, and like any other skill, it can be acquired.

The first step is to verbalise and explore every facet of our growth and self-development. This will of course include mistakes and dead-ends. The process of verbalising (putting into words) allows clarity. Concepts become clearer when we describe them either to ourself or to others. Thoughts go around in our head with the risk of being confusing and overwhelming. In the process of reflective writing we anchor them to a piece of paper. This makes them static so we can revisit them, crticise them and even change them.

To be successful in creative writing, we also need to let go of our perfectionistic traits (we all have those). There is no such thing as perfect writing; and perfect gets in the way of the good. The exercise of writing is a process, which may or may not lead to a conclusive product. We need to be able to appreciate this as a process and to be process-focused. The learning is never in the end result, but in the process.

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