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650,000 Words Later

650,000 Words Later

A rough count of the number of words I have written and made publicly available since 2007 sits at ~650,000 words … between books, articles, posts and essays.


CC Dan Allison


I had not thought to count them before.

Sometimes I wonder if those words are actually making a difference. Are they even supposed to make a difference?

Some argue writers ought to write for themselves. I’m not sure if I agree with that. I write so I can learn–trying to become a better autodidact during the writing process–but on the other hand, I *publish* what I write to hopefully help others.

If I don’t publish the words I am merely learning. If I am not sharing the words I am solely an autodidact. But when I publish I become both an autodidact and a teacher.

Maybe that’s the key.

The question is, am I a good enough autodidact to be a worthy teacher?

Maybe that’s a question for all of us. Are we both an autodidact and a teacher?

Can I become a better writer, teacher and thus autodidact?

I hope I can write another 650,000 words.


  • Marie-Louise Collard / 2 October 2016 11:26

    Interesting post Dan, thank you. One can always write better, teach better, learn better. I’m not so convinced by the term autodidact. Whilst we can learn without the benefit of a teacher and be “self taught” in the strictest sense, we constantly absorb from others, learn from others, imitate others, develop through others both close to us or far from us. Do we do anything that separates the “self” from others in the learning process – that helps us improve along the way?

    • Dan Pontefract / 2 October 2016 2:35

      Thanks Marie-Louise. I don’t view the term autodidactic as learning through myself, rather, learning about myself (and others) through others. I think of being an autodidact as someone (in this case, me) who simply dictates his own curriculum. That’s why I write … and why I publish. I decide what I want to learn. How I learn is my own choice, which–aside from formal classroom learning–comes in many, many forms.

      • Marie-Louise Collard / 3 October 2016 7:39

        Agreed – thank you. But what I find I often ask myself is how much of what I might “choose” to learn is separated from the people, ideas, thoughts, happenings, developments around us…so perhaps it’s less of a personal choice than one might imagine?

        • Dan Pontefract / 3 October 2016 2:06

          Perhaps. In terms of writing a book, I do “choose” to dive deep into a topic so I can learn as much as possible about it. Serendipitous or happenstance learning happens all the time for me, and is indeed affected by those people, thoughts, happenings, etc. that are around me.

  • Brian / 3 October 2016 8:04

    I get this. When I found that I needed to learn about and understand some concept or area of interest I decided to schedule a class to teach that to a group of adults at some point. Then I dug in and learned in a focused way. As is said, if you can teach it, you understand it. Broadened my knowledge and, hopefully, helped others in their quest for specific knowledge. So, write another 650,000 words! Learning (and teaching) is life long.

Want to leave a comment? I'd love to hear from you. Cheers, dp.

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