Finally hit that wall

I’ve been hearing people talk about a wall that they hit in their first year where they fall by the wayside and it gets hard to get back on track and I finally know what they’re talking about.

I missed a few days back in September during a business trip and things pretty much snowballed from there.

So this month I decided to do something about it with my upcoming Christmas leave.

Here’s what I did and hopefully it will help someone in the same situation.

  1. Stop doing lessons. I did this at the beginning of December and just enjoyed a break from WK for a bit. I had been going at a fairly brisk pace since February so this was time to recharge guilt-free since I had a plan to start up again.

  2. Plan when to tackle the backlog. My Christmas vacation time from work started on Saturday the 21st and I planned to allocate Monday to clearing my backlog of about 1400 items. Saturday and Sunday I spent with family and enjoying the first part of my vacation.

  3. Just get it done. Monday morning, after brushing my teeth, I started in on the backlog. My rule was every time I pick up my phone, I open Tsurukame first and do items, no exception.

  4. Life happens but you gotta keep trucking. I only got through 700 items on Monday but that was okay. It was much easier to start again Tuesday knowing I was halfway there. Plus, I didn’t just do WK for hours on end. My longest stretches were about an hour. In between I spent time with the family, did some cooking, etc. But I stuck to the rule in #3.

  5. Enjoy the progress. I finished my entire backlog just in time to start baking Rice Krispies treats and start making Christmas Eve dinner. It was a great feeling and a lot of fun again after my long break.

  6. A new start. Christmas Day I spent with the family until just now, when I got some time to myself and cleared up my daily items (163). Doing the dailies is much easier now that I can keep up. I’ll probably start lessons up again once I burn some more items and get the daily queue more manageable again.

All in all, this experience has shown me that this really is a lifestyle change for me. As much as I enjoy learning kanji and Japanese, I need to integrate it into my life if I want to continue on in the way I want. In all things, balance.

Anyway, hope this helps someone else going through the same thing.

And Happy Holidays to the WK staff and all of you. :smiley:


Stopping lessons is important when you’re feeling the weight of it. It’s hard when you’re gung-ho going for so long and find it hard to absorb 20+ lessons a day plus zeroing a mountain of reviews. At least it was for me, I hit my first wall at level 14.

Find that balance, and merry Christmas <3


Before I read the steps you took, I was going to tell you to reset back 5 or 6 levels! But it looks like you managed to do it the hard way, and I applaud you. Keep an eye on your level of Apprentice (and Guru) items. I would resume lessons once you get your Apprentice count to under 120 or so, and Guru is under 500-ish. Maybe more or less depending on your comfort zone. But beware the big bursts of reviews you’re going to be hit with in a couple weeks, a month, and four months when this big stack you just devoured comes back again!


No idea what you’re talking about :thinking:

Turns out, each one of those big waves makes a series of smaller waves behind, too. But it’s not unmanageable.


Quick question. What App are you using to see how long you spent at each level?

It is wanikani website. I believe it called wkstats


It’s not an official wanikani site; it was created by @rfindley, a user.

version 2:


So it’s not as bleak as it seems lol

Guru isn’t bad right now but I’m definitely going to get Apprentice down before new lessons.


Guru is probably where all your worst leeches are hiding. That’s going to keep apprentice from going down as fast as it should for a while, so maybe keep some room below your normal ‘comfortable’ apprentice number before starting lessons again. I normally try to keep around 100-150 apprentice, but I had to go down to 20-50 for a couple of weeks because every time I got it down it went back up to 100 when guru reviews happened. Other than that caution, I think you’re doing it perfectly.


I was just looking for a ‘wall’ thread. I hit level 12 and it’s taking me aaaages to get through, I just cannot do lessons because I am really struggling to retain everything from before.
I have around 500 burns though so I must be doing something right…

Definitely think I’m the slow and steady club


reviews are more important than lessons. when reviews are giving you a hard time, you shouldn’t worry about lessons, and just skip them for a while, until your head is free for more stuff to learn :slight_smile:
slow and steady wins the race!


when you notice that your brain doesn’t absorb new stuff as quickly and easily as it used to anymore, definitely take a lesson break and stick to reviews, maybe use that self-quizzing script to really clean up those shaky items. i believe it’s your brain’s way to let you know it’s at capacity and needs some time to digest.


I suspect you’re right. I’ve got my apprentice down to about 59 but my guru is still over 650. Once I get them both down I’ll start lessons again.

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I noticed when I finished learning 1000 of the most common kanji I started to dread doing reviews, maybe not hitting a wall, but somewhat similar to it. I’ve had thoughts of like “oh I’ll just do it tomorrow”, but I know if I do that it’s just going to put a heavier burden on me and will cause me to want to push it off more. Having a schedule is super important, at least for me, in maintaining my studying because all I want to do is learn, not review. So, with the schedule I have I’m forced to finish my reviews before I can learn new things which motivates me.

Update after 3 months:

I just made level 25 and things are moving along smoothly again. I did have a few days where a few hundred items came up for review but otherwise it’s been going well. Around 80 seems to be ideal number of items per day for me on my current work/life schedule.

One thing that really helped was to watch the number of Guru and Apprentice items as suggested by many of you all. I don’t do any lessons unless Guru is under 500 and Apprentice is under 100. For example, if Guru is fine and I have 70 Apprentice items, I’ll do 30 lessons that day. That’s really helped me keep the reviews manageable.

The other thing I did was to let myself take a day off here and there. As long as it was never two days in a row, my reviews didn’t pile up and it’s probably far better than never taking a break and taking two weeks off later in the year.

Also, it’s going to be my one year anniversary serving the crabigator on the 23rd and I’m pretty pleased with my progress so far. Barring the setback I would have been around level 30, but I’ve found that this is a better long term pace for me.



Hey way to go @alo!

I think you made a great decision. The pace you decide to be “your pace” is the best pace for you so I am glad that you followed the way you feel and that you are happy in the process!

All the best!


So a brief update:

I had two review sessions of about 80 items each the other day and I got 60% on both. This is great!

Why? Well, these were all enlightened items up for burn from that big push I did way back to clear these. Burning 60% of 160 or so items is not bad considering I learned most of these a year ago.

I think this is also the last few batches from my recovery.

So while it’s been over 6 months since I came back from a break, I’m still dealing with the fallout. And that just reinforces the fact that it’s much easier to just stick with WK rather than letting it slide and try to claw back.


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