Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Forging New Habits Is Hard

I've recently started trying to adopt the habit of putting two spaces after every period. This was not something that I ever learned, and it's something that still seems very foreign to me to do. I've of course seen plenty of other people who do this, but it's not been anything I've ever wanted to do myself; I always thought it was an antiquated practice. But recently I've learned that it throws off page counts in Standard Format, so I'm trying to learn this as a new habit.

I'm getting pretty good at automatically remembering to add that extra space most of the time, but fairly often I look back at my text and notice a string of places that I missed. Ah well, I've taught myself to put spaces on either side of em dashes, to put spaces between my ellipses -- and then to take them out again once I learned that was wrong -- and to put spaces between parentheses and their contents in programming but not in fiction. Ah well, I'll have this latest change down soon enough, despite years of conditioning to the contrary. It's just a bit amusing to see my subconscious struggle with it for the time being. How hard or easy do you find changing habits like this to be?


Rachel V. Olivier said...

You know since I had to take typing in school, I do that automatically, but I've just recently learned that that's not always wanted anymore. Some editors only want one space while others still demand the two. I'm just passing that on. Don't get too discouraged if it doesn't become an ingrained habit. The tide could be turning more your way anyway.

Christopher M. Park said...

Could be, and I definitely know that there are a number of "progressive" agents and editors that don't do things the traditional way. But, I figure they are less likely to be offended by seeing the traditional format than an editor who wants things the traditional way would be if they see something unexpected.

Stephen Parrish said...

Rachel is right. The old standard is two spaces, but the tide is slowly turning.

I'll be the last holdout!

Christopher M. Park said...

Yep, I know you're both right. But the fact is, if you're doing estimated word count based on standard format pages like Anne Mini recommends on her blog, your page counts (and thus word counts) will be a bit off if you don't use two spaces after periods. Perhaps as much as 3-5% off, actually.

I know that all agents and editors don't necessarily want estimated word count (Nathan Bransford wouldn't care), but I have seen this expectation surface on some of their blogs (Jonathan Lyons in particular), so I figure I'll go with the standard that is most compatible with everybody.

Fortunately, I think I've pretty well got myself trained to mostly do the double spacing when writing for my MS, and I've definitely got my eye trained to see single spaces after periods as an error when I'm editing my MS.