Study Tactic: Create a physical Book of Shame

Spoiler: Photo below

I’m a novice student attacking level 11, at the moment, realizing that what was working for me in the first ten lessons … is somehow abruptly less effective. More kanji starts to mix into my words and old ones I should know sometimes appear like brand new kanji to me. I need to change up my strategy.

My favorite feature of WaniKani that got me through the first levels was the Recent Mistakes. I’d start there, knowing that these were my weaknesses, and then I’d try reviews before even thinking about Lessons. If I had less than 100 items in my apprentice, I allow myself to do up to six lessons a day maximum, unless I encounter words that I already knew or are redundant from the kanji reading. Even in doing this, I sometimes get stuck for an hour or two despite thinking I could do it in 15 minutes. So I realized that I need even more structure or I’m going to keep forgetting.

My solution to trying to scale up further is a manual air brake – I am stopping myself from touching the computer and touching paper in a more methodical way. Sure, everyone keeps notes! I had always kept notes all the way through, on random scrap paper or a notepad, but never as a formal exercise. I even bought a kanji repetition notebook but I found myself mixing up similar kanji anyway and that wasn’t working for me. I needed something more formal. So I have started something new.


The book of shame is a nice-looking, bound small notebook that I look forward to filling with as much enthusiasm as I do completing my reviews and lessons. Every single day, seven words go into the book of shame. That means I am stopping my studies after seven mistakes. No longer percentages, sessions, etc. Seven mistakes and I’m out. And those seven mistakes go into the book. It doesn’t matter if I made the same mistake yesterday, it goes into the book. Repeat daily. When the book is filled, the study day is over unless I have nothing else pressing on my schedule.

When I come back to the computer, The Book of Shame is open to yesterday’s page waiting for me. I review my mistakes on my paper first by reading every single thing out loud to make sure I am attacking it to my fullest. I do the Extra Study Mistakes drill, and then my reviews begin. I look at my Apprentice count. Under 100, Lesson time. And on and on.

I love my Book of Shame™. When I manage to get through a day not filling a whole page, or only filling half, that’s very rewarding for me. I hope this exercise in madness helps someone or inspires a similar technique. When you defeat the last boss at Level 60, you can look back on your yearbooks.

Good luck with your studies!

*Bonus Exercise: Can you spot any glaring mistakes in my book of mistakes? Finding the errors/differences is the meta exercise between repeated words across pages!


That’s a really neat Idea. Writing things down in general is a great way to learn. In University I often studied for exams by just copying the notes by hand again. There are even studies about it!

For learning Kanji especially I can imagine that having to write them down can help with learning differences between similar ones.
However if I stopped after 7 mistakes I don’t think I would get anywhere :smiley:


I like it. Writing things out can be fun, frankly - up to a point.

I used write lots early in my study, but eventually stopped because of ‘scope creep’.
Not knowing where to draw a boundary, I ended up writing down everything I learned.
It took forever, and the net result was so much writing I never wanted to review it anyway!

Your approach has built-in limit: only write mistakes, and never go beyond 7 items.
That’d keep things concise, easy to review, and not endlessly time-consuming. Kudos!


Question: If you’ve already made 7 mistakes for that day but still have pending WK reviews, will you stop with reviews?


7 mistakes? What a masochist. You must have a backlog of a few thousand reviews by now.

…in all seriousness, this is a really cool idea. I may make my own personal Book of ShameTM, who knows.

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I’m curious about that too because stopping any remaining reviews completely for a day after 7 mistakes a day sounds like potential sabotage in the long run as the reviews will add up very quickly.

One thing that will counteract (another kind of) self-sabotage, though, is what @Rydien mentioned. Writing down no more than 7 mistakes per day in order not to get too carried away and miss your other study points from your daily learning routine sounds useful indeed.


Yep, that’s where I usually stop. I’m already at the point where I’m forgetting stuff, and caught myself trying to hurry to raise my level and learned kanji count while simultaneously seeing myself at level 60 and having forgotten half the material. I had to make a decision here and building out a really good little journal of what I absolutely struggled with seems more valuable than finishing WK faster.

Unless I have like the whole Sunday. Then I attempt something brutal, but just that time.

Having 500 reviews waiting doesn’t stress me out. I’m more concerned in having 500 recent mistakes, that’s what I’m trying to avoid.

I’ve been doing something similar, but I just write out the kanji, meaning, and reading every time I get a word wrong during a review. I started using post it notes and placing them on my walls, but after a while the post notes fall of my wall lol. Now I’m using a composition notebook I got for like $2 off Amazon. Already filled one completely up and a 3rd of the way through another one. :sweat_smile: I also started drawing pictures out if it makes sense with the reading mnemonics to try to help tricky ones. Also if there are two kanji that are super similar that I keep confusing, I’ll do a “Versus”, and set them side by side.

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I love this idea!! I haven’t actually started writing at all so I think this would be a good way to start. I was thinking I would just wait until I burn some items and proceed with learning how to write each burned item.

The only challenge for me in doing this would be setting aside time for reviews when I’m home or at least stationary (not in transit for example). Because I wouldn’t be able to write down things otherwise. I usually do my reviews on the way to work and over lunch through the flaming durtle app. I guess I could always just carry around the Book of Shame™ and look up the stroke order on a different app…

So I’ve been trying this method for over a month in a strict way as described, and it ended up putting to much of a space between reviews, which was by design … but I didn’t factor in how stupid I actually am. I’ve started forgetting simple words that I knew before. It took me a whole week of 40% scores or less review cramming to get back on my feet. That was scary. I’m still recovering.

I’m now only using this method to transcribe things on my Extra Study queue AFTER I’ve completed all of my reviews, not first. Otherwise, the gap of time between seeing these words again is too long and I’m in worse shape than I started.

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Thank you for trying this experiment in public and being honest about the results :). I still think it’s a great idea, just with some tweaks as mentioned in some of the other comments. Going to try a version of this myself without slowing down too much with the reviews.

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