Many fields have adopted the reflective journal template, including journals for art, law and social science. The reflective journal format makes it simple to apply critical thinking to nearly any type of creative endeavor. Examples include creation journals for artists, log books for scientists, and reflective notes for legal professionals. Many college courses now include a reflective journal as part of their course requirements.
These reflective journal template guidelines will help you get started in keeping track of your own insights and digging deeper into issues throughout the creative process.
Very briefly describe creative inputs. What are they and how did you encounter them?
Example: Inspiration for writing. I'm looking at an etching by Francisco Goya called “El sueño de la razón produce monstruos” (The sleep of reason breeds monsters). A man sits in a chair resting his head on a desk, presumably he fell asleep while working. I know how he feels. Fantastic monsters gather around him.
Describe why this is interesting to you. How are you using this? Why do you care? What's the context? Use theories and any other analysis tools you have but make it personal.
Example: I've been in this same position many times, up late working until I fall asleep. My dreams are usually full of whatever I was studying. I read that Goya was ridiculing Spanish society, saying that it had become superstitious and demented. The caption underneath the etching read “Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels." Fantasy needs reason to create art. Without reason, people let their imagination get the better of them and they act in monstrous ways. Was this a critical statement or a guide for artists?
Describe what actions you will take as a result. What have you learned? Does this reflection lead to any conclusions?
Example: No matter what Goya meant by creating this piece, it has made me reexamine my writing. Are my characters acting irrationally enough? What fears do they have? How do their fears drive them to act in monstrous ways? People rarely act out of reason, or even their own best interests. Drama comes from the reader realizing what the character should do, but understanding why they don't do it.
What is the next step? Has your reflective led you do any actionable tasks? Do you have a schedule for the next journal session?
Example: Must look into the Renaissance to Goya exhibit at British Museum. Remember to write down my dreams this week and examine them for monsters.
Picture all the ways that a reflective journal can be useful for whatever you want to accomplish.