Finding Time To Write Down Kanji/Vocab I miss

I recently decided that to re-enforce learning from my mistakes that I would write down in a notebook (plain old pencil & paper) every Kanji/Vocab and corresponding reading that I miss during reviews. Sounded like a good and simple idea to correct my mistakes.

Then I put it into practice. I average probably ~200 reviews/Day which I would say is pretty average for many WK users. It takes me about 6 minutes to learn the stroke order of a given Kanji/Vocab and then write it down enough times (along with the English translation & Hiragana Reading) to remember it. 6 minutes…not bad.

So I do ~200 reviews/Day and let’s say I miss 20 of them, for 180/200 or 90%. Suddenly 6 minutes X 20 misses = 2 hours of writing That is on top of my ~1 hour to do 200 WK reviews.

Add in an hour for Genki Text and an hour of Genki Workbook and it’s easily 5-6 hours a day of studying. I cri every time.

Have any of you found a better way to incorporate Kanji writing into your daily routine that doesn’t take 2 hours a day like me?

Much obliged.


Keep writing practice separate from WK reviews? What if you only do a quick note on WK mistakes?

My writing practice is recall based. In Japanese class we always start out with a 36 question test on grammar, vocabulary and conjugation. For whichever word the kanji aren’t provided, I try to write it down from memory.

I also do a bunch of copying sentences.


I’m really interested in doing this and hearing people’s ideas


Maybe try to write only the kanji/vocab that are leeches for you? So the ones that you keep getting wrong, not just get wrong once. I am going to second @Saida with the recommendation to separate writing practice (at least to some degree) from WK.

Personally, I only really practice stroke order a bit when I initially learn the kanji (not for vocab, just kanji), which seems to work for me better than trying to play catch-up later during reviews. Then while studying grammar, I basically am copying sentences into my notebook (I can only really learn grammar via kinaesthetic input weirdly enough) so using them in a more native, natural setting helps me practice the more common ones that show up. I don’t really have a ‘daily writing routine’ so to speak, it’s just part of my comprehensive studying.


I practice writing Kanji with an Anki deck. When I started out doing that, it was because I was struggling to tell apart all those very similar kanji, so I focused on those, and it helped me sooo much on getting clarity on those!
Nowadays I’m adding all Kanji that I learn through WK to this Anki deck. I use a special font that shows me the stroke order. My reviews consist of writing the Kanji, of course. 70 reviews take me about half an hour, and I’m trying to not get more than those. I.e. every day I will learn 6 new Kanji (5 that are new in WK + 1 other Kanji that I want to study) but if my writing reviews get past 70, I will not add new WK Kanji on that day (usually I still do the 1 other Kanji because eventually I want to be able to write all Kanji). So far this works extremely well for me.


Some thoughts about writing:

  1. I’ve found that over time when writing regularly, there’s a really significant increase in writing speed. Also the stroke order gets really intuitive over time, it’s mostly the same patterns.
  2. Just for the task of writing itself, six minutes for working through a “new” kanji seems long to me - when I learn writing a kanji, that I’ve previously guru’ed on WK, and lets say I can only recall it’s “approximate shape” but not really it’s radicals or the way they are shaped/intersected, I usually only write them maybe four or five times until I got the kanji to look properly. In most cases that’s already sufficient to remember it well enough.

As for correcting failed reviews on WK:

  1. For remembering readings/meanings I would go through mnemonics again or create my own than just writing them out.
  2. For disambiguation between things like 末未木天矢失 or 申由曲画両何向回局 I’d work on the differences, write them out maybe a few times, work out mnemonics that make the differences clearer. That’s a single-time effort, so if you take 15 minutes for 末未木天矢失 that’s shorter than 2 minutes for each, but 5 times of repeating it until it sticks.

I’ve been adding every Kanji I burn to an Anki deck. Learning to write properly is a lot less useful than learning to read and it’s a lot of work.
Also, it’s a lot easier to learn to write a kanji once I’ve got it to burned level.


Semi-native Chinese speaker here. (‘Semi-’ because I started both English and Chinese as a baby, but my English is definitely better since it was my everyday language. Chinese was used for watching dramas and Chinese homework. I know more Chinese proverbs though.) To learn kanji with (Mandarin) readings, frankly, I was systematically taught stroke order and readings at the same time. Stroke order stopped being explicitly taught at the point when it was assumed we could just copy our teachers’ actions. (It wasn’t true for everyone though.) Even then, I often looked up stroke order on my own, because I found it helpful for learning new characters.

Your question, however, is about how to spend less time on writing. I think the real question is this: what do you want to achieve? The easiest way to spend less time on writing is to write less. For example, if your focus is learning readings, write a kanji out just to familiarise yourself with its shape, with a stroke order diagram in front of you, and repeatedly say its reading aloud. Treat it like learning the alphabet in English: say a letter’s name, write it, and say its name again. You don’t have to memorise its stroke order since ingraining its shape into your mind should be helpful as well. On the other hand, if you want to be able to write kanji without a computer’s help, and perhaps even dabble in calligraphy, then you should try to memorise the order of strokes used. In that case, you have no choice but to find a way to memorise it. Ultimately, your goals will be a deciding factor. Nonetheless, I’d like to assure you that, as long as you pay attention while writing and do so fairly often, stroke order will eventually begin to stick.

A few other thoughts:

Both true. In particular, you may eventually discover this general trend: block by block, kanji are written from top to bottom, and left to right. Stroke order is something whose utility becomes more obvious when writing quickly: look at some 行書(ぎょうしょ) calligraphy samples to see how the strokes link up. Only a few stroke orders allow that sort of flow. That’s why they’re ‘standard’.

Each person has his or her own way of memorising readings. Mine is to visualise the character while saying the reading. That’s why stroke order helps so much. Also, I sometimes feel as though I can ‘see’ the sound contained in a certain stroke or angle between strokes. All this comes with familiarity, I believe, and that’s why I write kanji: I see them writing themselves in my head when I hear them. Mnemonics are great too, but only if they make sense to you. Otherwise, you’re just giving yourself a huge, almost random sequence to remember that might be harder to remember than the kanji itself. I know that I remember kanji as a combination of component meanings or as a combination of sound components and meaning components. I probably wouldn’t manage otherwise. However, to each his or her own.

At the end of the day, you need to examine which methods seem to be most effective in helping you reach your goals. I’d say the ability to write kanji, or at least familiarity with common components, is what helps native speakers with faster recognition and comprehension, and hence, I feel writing is very useful and should be an integral part of learning a language that uses kanji (like Chinese or Japanese). It also allows you to express yourself in writing without a computer or phone. I thus believe that any amount of time seriously and attentively invested into learning kanji writing is time well spent, especially since you’ll get faster with time. However, that may not be what you are aiming for, and you may find WK’s visual mnemonic approach sufficient, so the choice is yours.