How to start writing

Hello everyone!

I’ve been studying Japanese almost every day for over half a year now. I have learnt a lot of grammar and vocabulary from the N5/N4 spectrum, but I have realised that I have a problem.
I want to start using my knowledge to actually write about things I’m interested in, but I don’t seem to know how to start. It’s like I have some sort of block to doing this and I don’t know how to solve it.
Has anyone had a similar problem or any strategies or tips on how to start writing?

Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

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there’s the Japanese Sentence a Day Challenge thread here
I used to use it a fair bit but fell out of habit
kind of does what it says on the tin

I know some people like setting up Japanese twitter accounts and tweeting about various tihngs in Japanese

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will you be writing in hiragana?

I started keeping a daily diary in Japanese, and its been really useful.

It’s made me look up lots of vocabulary which are everyday words for me, but not necessarily common words in general - for example vocab which is relevant to my job and hobbies and my local area.

Plus it makes me do a little bit of writing practise each day, which is a good way to improve, and its fun to be able to flip back a few months in my diary and see how much progress I’ve made.

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Mostly yes, I guess. I would try to use as many Kanji as I can write though.

I think this is a really great solution for me and i wonder why i could not thought of it myself because i already do diary in my mothers tongue!
Anyway, thanks a lot :slight_smile:

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On a not unrelated subject…I’ve done lots of individual kanji writing practice, but I think it would be useful to practice words instead. Think 勉強 and 突然 to learn kanji combinations. Does anyone know of like, “ five hundred most common words containing the hundred most common kanji” lists/writing books etc

— Dave

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I’m not aware of a list like that, but I often look for compound words with new kanji I’m learning in my dictionary apps on my phone (I use Takoboto and Akebi on Android).

Also, a lot of kanji review books (such as for JLPT) have compound words for each kanji.

Specifically for writing, I recently picked up this book at my local book store and in addition to kanji writing practice sheets it also has over 50 pages of compound word practice pages.

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I held that very book in my hand yesterday! - Dave

Just to add onto this, 3-5 year diaries are somewhat common in Japan so you could use those as well.

I got myself a 3 year one for this exact purpose.

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I’ve fallen out of the habit but I had a good experience with LangCorrect. I liked the feedback that I got and the Japanese users are really nice (and interesting people from their own posts).

The main thing to watch out for is the quality of the feedback. Some proofreaders will give you minute feedback to sound more naturally Japanese, while others are just trying to get you to that 「日本語上手ですね」 point. So it’s not a substitute for a one-to-one human teacher, but I’ve felt myself improve.

EDIT: I can’t remember whether it was this forum or the Bunpro one, but someone coded an AI grammar checker: https://bunpo-check.com/. I haven’t used it much but I like it! I’m leery of AI at this stage of the technology, but I’m at a take-what-I-can-get stage with my output anyway.

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I have the workbook for Kanji Look and Learn (there’s also a main book teaching the kanji but I doubt you need that). It’s pretty compact but is amazing - it covers 500 kanji, splits them into lessons of 8 kanji, for each lesson, it has about a dozen common words that include those kanji and a super short and simple usage sentence. Then it has a page of longer sentence exercises. Every two lessons there is a more involved reading exercise. There are blanks in the exercises to write the kanji (furigana prompt) or write the furigana (kanji prompt). Or for the more involved reading exercises there are comprehension questions. There is an answer key for everything and the complexity builds progressively. I’d say the starting level is around Genki Ch 6 (if I remember correctly it may use common verb and adjective conjugations and te form from the start). As you go through it, the furigana for previously learned kanji go away. So you get common vocab, reading and writing practice in pretty thin volume. It’s also all really common use.

That book looks quite interesting, it has a lot of interesting tidbits.

Another thing you could try is just copy things in Japanese. Try some text books that have questions in Japanese, so you copy the questions, then try to answer. Its a good way to kind of get your hand moving and not needing to think starting out but then get’s your mind in writing Japanese so you should be able start answering the questions. Your level is a level I would suggest immitating what you see. So if you wanna write, just copy something, if you wanna speak, just copy the speaker.

Good luck!

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I got started just doing super stilted textbook exercises. As my grammar and vocabulary have gotten more and more advanced, my textbook answers have gotten less and less stilted haha. Even though I don’t have any teacher or tutor checking them, I can tell that my ability to form complicated sentences is improving. I usually check my answers against the textbook example answers to get some idea if I’m on the right track or not. For answering questions that ask me to explain something, often I’ll go to the Japanese wikipedia page for it and paraphrase from the summary, simplifying it to words and grammar that I already know.

Besides that, most of my writing practice has been occasionally tweeting things in Japanese. I have an account for posting English translations of Japanese pro wrestling, and occasionally I’ve wanted to tweet things intended to be read by Japanese fans and/or the company/wrestlers themselves, so that has given me an excuse to practice a little. My main strategy there is to take the same kind of wording/vocabulary I see other fans and the wrestlers using, like if the wrestlers talk about wanting their work to provoke a certain reaction in the audience, I’ll use the same wording in my tweet, haha.

I don’t worry too much about mistakes in that setting, as long as I feel like I’m at least able to get my point across. I feel like most people value your earnest attempt to express your feelings in their language and will forgive your mistakes. Pro wrestling is a bit of a special environment because it’s incredibly multilingual, and fans and wrestlers are both used to interacting with people who don’t speak their native language.

If you have some sort of Japanese media hobby, you could go looking for a Japanese twitter community for it. Might be more interesting than just writing in Japanese about your day, haha.

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Thank you so much for this. I didn’t realize this was the inspiration I needed but I assure you it was.

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Thanks. That sound like what I need! — Dave

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