It showed up 1,836 times! Like the dandelions in my yard, it popped up so often on a page I quickly realized I had a weedy mess.
I asked myself, why did I do this? It's not like it's the first time I've written this way. It was a pattern in my last two novels as well. Was I afraid my reader would suddenly forget who the MC is? Or was I afraid I'd forget who I was writing about, as I was writing? Truth is, yes -- to both.
Writing is a demonstration of trust. You have to show you trust your reader, but you also have to show you trust your own characters to not forget who they're talking to.
By using my main character's first name all the time, I was showing that I didn't trust my reader, or even the other characters in the story.
During editing, if you change the physical format of your MS and color code things (like names), these sorts of patterns start to jump -- leap! -- off the page.
Repeat after me: "Pronouns are my friends."
When eradicating character names, resist the urge to refer to characters by some qualifier or adjective, like a title. Here's a good blog post that illustrates how this pulls the reader out of your story.
Trust your reader to understand that each paragraph is a distinct, discreet unit. Within it, you don't have to constantly clarify who's doing what, or who's speaking. "He" or "she" will refer to the speaker or POV character, unless there are a bunch of people in the scene / page to confuse the reader. A simple pronoun is, honestly, probably all you need.
Imagine any large-group conversation in which you've participated. Did you, consciously, think to yourself, "Now, Jose is speaking. Oooh, and now Jane is adding a comment." You didn't, right? You kept track of the speakers in your head without saying their names. Your reader will do the same, and so will your POV character. There's no need to reiterate the speakers' names, especially if your characters have distinct voices your reader can quickly identify.
I'm getting a little thrill, a zing, every time I replace a character's name with a pronoun, like I'm doing something naughty -- although I know I'm not. I'm just placing my trust in my reader, and let's face it, it's a bit scary.
I'm down to 300 or so references to his name -- in the first 19 of 25 chapters. That's still more than one a page. Sigh. I've got a long way to go. But that's why we edit (and edit and edit and edit some more), right?