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I've been writing poetry for 20 years and more recently have written stories, with some 40-odd short stories in various stages of completion. I read a lot of books about words and language, and am a librarian, which might explain some of it!
How do I calculate wordcount for a manuscript?
What I do for my essays is type the suggested word limit for each heading/section, then the actual count at the end of each paragraph as I write it. When I'm done, I add up these 'actual counts' and have my total word limit as for my course, as reference/bibliography list and appendix, etc, are not included.