I was reading an interesting novel called 小説家の作り方 (How To Create A Novelist), where the protagonist novelist is in pursuit to create the most interesting novel in the world. While realizing the near impossibility of the task he is told a top-secret piece of advice from his editor.
If you want to write the greatest novel ever:
“All you need to do is read 100,000 novels, and write 10,000”
While these numbers are obviously ridiculous, the editor goes on to say that reading books will give you everything you need to prepare and writing novels will give you the practice you need.
While the protagonist pushes off this advice as merely silly, the editor follows up:
“Well how many novels have you read? Have you read 5000? 1000?”
Realizing the answer was no to both, he is left with something to think about.
Read a lot and write a lot
It’s this type of basic advice that you often need to be reminded of. Yes, there is method, structure, format, and technique to creating a novel, but that’s only a minuscule fraction of the time needed to be spent on reading and writing.
The parallel to Japanese?
To become the greatest master of Japanese in existence you need 100,000 hours of input and 10,000 hours of output
Combined that’s 11 times greater than the popular “10,000 hours needed to master anything.” At 8 hours a day that would only take you 37 years!
Okay, you aren’t trying to be the greatest Japanese master in existence, and these numbers are just as far fetched and ridiculous as the novel number. But there are two important ideas to be gleaned from this.
1. Input is extremely important (the 10:1 ratio sounds about right)
2. Mastery requires time
It’s just that easy…
Luckily you love Japanese, and your love of Japanese will grow as the obstacles get torn down one at a time. And it won’t take you 37 years (I promise).