By Clara Bartram '18
I believe in double-spacing. Ms. Simchak, my eighth grade English teacher, first taught me the importance after I handed in my first essay draft, the lines single-spaced. She glanced at the paper and proceeded to berate me for leaving her no space to comment and cramming so much text onto one page. At the time, her criticism surprised me, but as I have grown as a writer, I have learned to appreciate her reasoning. While I used to see double-spacing as an easy way to achieve a required page count, now, double-spacing means more to me than checking the 2.0 option under the line spacing tab. A pause between lines gives time for reflection and space for correction.
I highly value reflection. I think it’s vital to look back on each class, sports practice, and day, and take the time to consider what I learned, how I grew as a student, athlete, and person, what I did well and what I can improve. A double-space creates unoccupied time for analysis, and just as every day deserves a period of time set aside for reflection, so does every line of text I write. Double-spaces allow me to reflect on aspects of my writing such as what ideas I hoped to communicate, to what degree I was successful in communicating those ideas, what parts I can improve. I have learned to think before I speak, but why not after too?
Double-spacing, more importantly, leaves space for correction. Editing single-spaced papers requires me to squeeze suggestions in between lines or to write edits in the margins, and I am often so overwhelmed by the density of text that I miss phrases in need of correction. In the same way, I do not want to take time to reflect only when it is convenient or marginalize those corrections which I want to apply by sweeping them into the back of my mind. Double-spacing encourages correction, presenting an editor with empty space just waiting to be filled, like an awkward silence. This is the awkward silence I strive to reserve in my day. By setting aside a time when I can be alone and without my homework or cell phone, this silence inspires me to fill it with my thoughts and reflections on how to make the next day better than this one.
I hope to catch myself when I am wrong, to affirm myself when I am right, and to be critical and corrective. By double-spacing every class, practice, day, thought, and action, I strive to embody my values of reflection and self-improvement. If I allow myself the time and space to correct myself when I err and appreciate my improvement, I can, every day, bring myself closer to being the student, athlete, and person I want to become.