How do I know? Because finding and replacing the words "feel" and "felt" in the manuscript took me two hours. I didn't have a chance to tackle the third word on my list, "seem," and the list continues with then, just, few, some, even, still, only, up, down, against, back, look(ing), and sound. Last year I judged a writing contest entry that used the word "just" 43 times. In twenty-five pages. Sometimes Control-F is a better friend than coffee, and that is from a Seattle-ite.
I also like Joanne Bourne's technical advice on words to check. It reminded me to look not only for filler words like those above, but also for overused descriptions. Eyes and hands and fingers, oh my. I suspect I'll cringe when I read through the frequent hand/finger references in The Soldier.
(By the way, Joanna Bourne is a wonderfully gracious person - I sat next to her twice at 2008 RWA Nationals - and The Spymaster's Lady is a superb Regency. Please put it on your To Be Read list.)
Here's another word I spread far and wide through my writing - adjust. I tried to layer body language into the manuscript. Instead I created fidgeters. It makes me wonder how the saintly Mr. Richland tunes out my own constant "adjusting" of glasses, hair, bra straps and sleeves.
What words do you know you over use? And how many times do you use just or feel/felt? Can you be more atrocious than two hours of feeling removal? Let me know so we can wave our fingers and grip our hands together.