This might just be me. In fact, I’m entirely prepared for this to be a problem only I have.
Who else says “in spite of” at least three times a chapter, right?
I blame my fourth/fifth grade teacher. He was fabulous, taught me so many critical life skills and school skills. He encouraged my interests and taught me discretion over shock value. (Call me precocious)
But he had us memorize a poem/song/story a month. Because I had him twice, I had some discretion the second year, but the first year I learned what everyone else did – including The Night Before Christmas.
The skill of memorization has proved useful, and that particular poem is a great party piece around the holidays.
Let’s face it: poems can give us bad habits of wordiness. I have a feeling this is where a great deal of my awkward phrasings comes from – reading and memorizing poetry. And “I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself” sounds endlessly better than “I laughed when I saw him, despite myself,” not to mention not fitting meter.
But I say, “in spite of” waaaaaay too much in my work, and one smooth way to get rid of two words at once is to switch it to “despite,” which sounds more streamlined and cuts out those pesky, fumbling prepositions.
Again, not sure, could just be me, but if this is something you see in your own writing, now you have a fix.
That, and you’ll never be able to edit without hearing The Night Before Christmas in your head ever again.