Raising your readers

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When my daughters were infants I carried them everywhere. I bundled them up and put them in a snug little carrier and took them with me when I left the house. When they were a bit older they moved to a stroller. Fortunately, their age difference was such that they were never both at the same stage.

After a bit they were able to stumble and then walk on their own. There was a transition period where it was faster for me if I kept them in the stroller but increasingly important to them that they be allowed to walk a bit on their own.

I held their hand and when they were worn out I picked them up and carried them for a bit.

Now Maggie is 13. It would just be weird for me to carry her whenever we left the house. In fact, I’m not sure she would be comfortable holding my hand either. Mostly she heads off on her own to where she needs to go. She doesn’t need me much any more. She calls to check in once in a while and sometimes wants me to come pick her up.

And that is today’s lesson in writing.

How do you treat your readers? In the beginning you need to get them out of the house. If you don’t carry them they never will see anything interesting. You also need to recognize when they know too much to be carried any more. You’ll just get in their way. In between their infancy in what you are teaching them and their independence there are times when you need to put them in the stroller to move ahead a bit and times where you need to let them struggle and and stumble on their own two feet.

Just like parenting, you will be forgiven for much by your readers if it is clear that you care about them and that you are dependable and in control.

This post originally appeared in the Pragmatic Life blog.