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Reflective writing (choosing a topic)

Watch this to explore how to choose a topic for your Reflective essay in Higher English (and why you should never hide in a drawer)

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I have a vivid memory of playing hide and seek with my three older siblings when I was about 4.

My brother offered to help me hide in a drawer; he convinced me that this would be an excellent hiding place.

He was right. I was not found for hours, long forgotten by my siblings, whose desire to eat cake became more important than finding their little sister.

This is not a groundbreaking story. It certainly did not make the news; I suspect I was only missing for a matter of minutes before my brother realised that I could not get out by myself.

However, this would make a good basis for a Reflective Essay for Higher English.

Let’s look at why.

This is ThinkFour.

Choosing a suitable topic for your essay is arguably the most difficult part of the writing process.

You might claim that nothing interesting has ever happened to you.

But what you write about in itself doesn’t have to be extraordinary.

A child’s game of hide-and-seek is nothing special, but I firmly believe that that experience shaped who I am today: I have a deep-rooted fear of being trapped in small places and I certainly don’t like feeling that I’ve been forgotten.

Nevertheless, my brother did rescue me in the end, and that knowledge that he will always be there for me has never left me.

Your choice of topic is not the whole essay but more of a springboard to explore your deeper feelings: how did the experience affect you personally and what are the wider implications of the experience? In this case, I might consider how what we experience as children affects us through our lives.

And so, although the experience doesn’t need to be something news-worthy, it should be something that has had an impact on who you are.

Whenever I am asking my class to choose a topic, l ask them to think of moments in their lives when they have felt strong emotions.

Fear, anger, regret...

Wonder, excitement, pride.

The list is by no means exhaustive but it’s a good place to start.

So, what has happened to you to make you experience any of these emotions? It’s that emotion that you need to tap into for your essay.

Once you have found your moment, you can start building your story because, after all, a Reflective Essay is just a story. However, the important fact is that it’s YOUR story, it’s what happened to YOU that has made you... well... YOU.

Of course, you might be lucky – or unlucky – to already have a big life event that you can write about.

Your Reflective Essay is the perfect time to explore your response to your chosen event. In fact, it can be quite cathartic, an opportunity to dig deep and consider how whatever has happened has changed you and shaped you into the person you are now.

If it is an unhappy event, try to find the good; try to find a way forward through the pain to explore your own resilience.

Above all else, always be honest with yourself and your reader: this will make your essay more engaging and more relatable.

In MY story the thing that was most frightening about being trapped in a drawer was that I couldn’t get out by myself. I needed help. Eventually, my screams were heard, and I was set free.

So don’t get stuck in a drawer with your essay writing: ask for help with your ideas. Discuss all of the little moments with your family, friends, and teacher...

I guarantee that eventually, you will find your moment, you will find your story.

Because you can make the ordinary extraordinary.

This was thinkfour, thanks for watching.