I Searched For Commonly Used Words In My Current Manuscript & Here’s What I Found

I am doing the second draft/edit of my historical fiction novel and I thought it would be fun (funny and/or horrifying) to search up how many overly used words are in my manuscript. I thought it would be nice to make a lighthearted post about writing and it’ll encourage me and you to be careful for overusing those common words. It’s interesting as a writer to see what your “habit words” are and which ones you’ve successfully shrugged off. I know that I use “just” quite often, for example. After doing a little search, it’s come to my attention that I also like using other words a little too often.

Here’s the tally for my most used common words! Keeping in mind that my story is 50,000 words.

Just – 71 times (No surprise there)

That – 312 times (Ouch! And this is after consciously cutting out “that” words before doing the search)

Been – 86 times (Surprised at this one!)

Really – 19 times (Not too bad)

Sighed – 9 times (I’m happy with this, because this used to be a commonly used word for me when I started out)

Gasped – 5 times (So few! I’ve come a long way)

Walked – 74 times (My character does walk a lot, but I can try to cut this # down a bit)

Other – 270 times (Yeeouch! Gotta be careful with that one)

More – 77 times (I could afford to cut that down a little bit)

Good – 92 times (Maybe not so good! :P)

Many – 14 times (It looks like I didn’t use it too many times!)

Ache – 64 times (My character experiences a lot of pain, sadly, especially when she’s younger. No surprise this one showed up a few times).

Smile – 73 times (I like using the word “smile” in a lot of my stories. I really do like this word. It can mean genuine happiness or a wicked baring of teeth).

Boy – 80 times (My character uses the word a lot since the boy she falls in love with is a teenager like herself and she also has interactions with a lot of boys, so yeah, lots of boy words here.)

Sleep – 40 results (I often use sleep as a transition scene)

Said – 323 results (I think this is okay though? My story has a decent amount of dialogue)

Eyes – 139 results (Makes sense. Eye contact is huge in story telling because that’s how characters connect.)

So there we have it! While you definitely need to use these words sometimes, there are other words you can try to use in place of them. Instead of good, you can write “perfect” or “great” or “nice”, for example. It’s *good* to keep in mind what your commonly used words are as a writer so you can be more conscious of them. I found this exercise fun and it’s honestly not something I’ve done before. I hope you enjoyed it!

Let me know some of your most commonly used words!

(Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)


  1. Kudos on your self-awareness, Sara! Might want to also take a look at overused pronouns… the “I,” for instance, that another established writer called the ‘Chihuahua Syndrome,’ ai-ai-ai-ai when you read 😉

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