I know it's wrong, but I do it all the time or else my sentences would go on forever.
What makes you think this is an error? All the greatest writers of English have started sentences with and. Mark Liberman, linguistics professor at the University of Pennsylvania wrote about this mythical “rule” in Language Log in 2005:
There is nothing in the grammar of the English language to support a prescription against starting a sentence with and or but—nothing in the norms of speaking and nothing in the usage of the best writers over the entire history of the literary language. Like all languages, English is full of mechanisms to promote coherence by linking a sentence with its discourse context, and on any sensible evaluation, this is a Good Thing. Whoever invented the rule against sentence-intitial and and but, with its a preposterous justification in terms of an alleged defect in sentential “completeness”, must have had a tin ear and a dull mind.
So, my answer to OP’s original question is “mu”: your question assumes something which is false.
The rule forbidding conjunctions at the beginning of sentences—“No Initial Coordinators” (NIC)—is something that even the most prickly old usage writers have rejected as Not A Real Rule. Arnold Zwicky wrote on Language Log in 2006 (emphasis added):
Mark notes that the AHD [American Heritage Dictionary] note for and rejects NIC out of hand, and he provides a smorgasbord of cites (and statistics) from reputable authors. Similarly MWDEU [Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage]. Paul Brians, collector of common errors in English, labels sentence-initial coordinators a "non-error". Bryan Garner denies, all over the place, that NIC has any validity. Even the curmudgeonly Robert Hartwell Fiske tells his readers that there's absolutely nothing wrong with sentence-initial coordinators. A point of usage and style on which Liberman and I and the AHD and the MWDEU stand together with Brians and Garner and Fiske (and dozens of other advice writers) is, truly, not a disputed point. NIC is crap (emphasis added).
But still it lives on, as what I've called a zombie rule. It's been lurking in the grammatical shadows for some time -- at least a hundred years, to judge from MWDEU. Hardly any usage manual subscribes to it, but it is, apparently, widely taught in schools, at least in the U.S., with the result that educated people tend to be nagged by a feeling that there is something bad about sentence-initial and (and but and so).
A participant using the name pointytilly links to Paul Brians' list of "non-errors" in defense of the view that sentence-initial and and but are "grammatically correct". And indeed they are, according to essentially everyone with any plausible claim to expertise, prescriptivists and descriptivists alike.
I'll admit to possibly having been an accomplice in the perpetuation of this Zombie Rule. When I taught writing to third grade students I did use the NIC proscription [I believe I can use this construction to mean the rule that proscribed IC.] I did so because without it a large percentage of my students would consistently compose paragraphs such as this:
Yesterday my dad came home from work. And we went to the pet store. And we got a new dog. And he is black. And he's got white spots. And his name is Spike. And he's really cool. And I love him. And my mom loves him too. And so does my dad.
You can imagine the type of paragraph in which "but" is used similarly. Because such a large number of skills must be taught to students at this stage of writing development, it was more expedient to tell them to avoid the initial coordinator construction.
As students developed more advanced writing skills, some intuitively developed the ability to appropriately use initial coordinators and were given permission to do so in assignments, and some others needed to be taught this skill and to be given permission.
To be clear, the rule was that in writing assignments in this class you may not use initial coordinators unless and until you have mastered a number of other basic skills and have progressed to a certain level determined by me, your teacher.
However, I must admit that I'm sure there were many students of mine who left third grade with the idea that NIC is a hard and fast grammar law. If I were to teach third grade writing again I might try harder to disabuse them of this notion.
In computer programming, the
goto statement is semantically legal and logically meaningfully, however if you find yourself relying heavily on it, you probably need to refactor your code.
Similarly, There is nothing grammatically wrong starting a sentence with the word “and.” However, if you find yourself linking together long sentences with a string of “and”s, you probably want to rework your sentences to make what you're saying more clear.
It is rank superstition that this coordinating conjunction cannot properly begin a sentence.
That it is a soleicism to begin a sentence with and is a faintly lingering superstition. The OED gives examples ranging from the 10th to 19th c.; the Bible is full of them.
Ernst Gowers. MEU2 at 29.
A prejudice lingers from the days of school-marmish rhetoric that a sentence should not begin with and. The supposed rule is without foundation in grammar, logic or art. And can join separate sentences and their meanings just as well as but can both join sentences and disjoin meanings.
Wilson Follett, MAU at 64.
And the idea that and must not begin a sentence, or even a paragraph, is an empty superstition. The same goes for but. Indeed either word can give unimprovably early warning of the sort of thing that is to follow.
Kingsley Amis, The King's English 14 (1997).
Reference: A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, Garner.
I would say it is one of those errors that is coming more into accepted use, especially in e-mails, but since most people continue to consider it an error, you are best off avoiding it.
And In addition, it is easy to correct, you can almost always replace it with a more formal term, or just omit it, e.g:
And, we hope to see you at the party on Tuesday!
We hope to see you at the party on Tuesday!