Solving an online crossword puzzle is an everyday affair and has now become a ritual for me. Every night before going to bed I make sure I have solved at least one puzzle. I keep ploughing through the mental challenge.
Yay! That sense of accomplishment
There is a sense of deep accomplishment that goes far beyond filling that last empty box of the free online crossword puzzle. What I actually love about solving crossword is the hard work that goes into it.
Trying to figure out how I will solve this new puzzle. There are different strategies that start popping up in my mind as soon as I see a new crossword.
My never-ending learning process
Can you guess what actually crosswords have taught me? It is how easily failure can become a success and vice versa.
Often, I come across a clue and feel very confident about the right answer. And then I discover it doesn’t work. But I was quite sure that I was right. Why is it not working?
Earlier, I use to get frustrated because I thought I knew the right answer but actually, it turned out to be totally wrong. So I had to consider that my assumptions were incorrect.
This is not easy to do in life to say that “Perhaps, I was wrong.” But I feel that when I have to rethink my approach, I gain something new out of it. Gradually, I became a better solver for future crossword puzzles. I started thinking in an innovative manner. I will put it another way, I’m learning every single day.
How I gained more knowledge?
There is a lot of difference between knowledge and learning. Knowledge is something that you have and learning is something you do. Both are a process of growth and unfolding that is a permanent accompaniment of life.
Having knowledge is good but learning is a never-ending, life long process. And it is never a straight journey from A to Z, but a zig-zag journey. You make mistakes and then learn from them. This is certainly crucial for your sense of growth. In fact, when we learn from our mistakes, it transforms our failures into success.
It has nothing to do with luck
For more than two years I’m solving online crosswords daily. My friends find my studios. They feel I’m the smartest person they’ve met. Hey, that is not true of course. But this is the truth that I have worked really hard on solving the puzzle game online correctly.
Don’t feel that the people who win crossword tournaments or championships is because of mere luck. They are the ones dedicatedly practicing for a very long time. Practice is what makes you perfect. I have experienced many failures but I never gave up. I kept doing more and more puzzles and this is how I’ve become a pro.
The crossword aficionados know how irritating it is to solve, delete, undo and start from the beginning, starting all over again. But if we ponder what we are doing, that one word or sometimes even a single letter helps the whole crossword to fall into place.
We, humans, are bound to make mistakes but one should not repeat the same mistake time and again. Every time I messed up, I felt I will be doing it differently next time onwards.
How I improved my crossword skills?
I learned how to break problems into manageable ‘chunks’. The only way to successfully solve crossword is to randomly twist it until it is completed.
Here is how I enhanced my solving skills and became a crossword pro:
1. Started off with simpler ones as a novice
There are different levels in a crossword game, easy, medium and difficult. Two years ago when I was a beginner, I started with the easiest free online crossword puzzles games. Some were big in size and some were of the standard size.
Later, I moved to medium ones. After a year I began solving difficult stuff. I never got discouraged to do a puzzle that was out of my league.
2. Always had a goal to learn a little of everything
Earlier, crossword clues were related to dictionary definitions. But today’s puzzles require solvers to catch references from current affairs, anything that is going around in the environment and across the globe. I didn’t learn everything deeply, I was just aware of the basic things.
I had come across many people who are intellectual. I’ve asked them how they know so much about everything and they told me they know a little about everything and don’t believe in having in-depth knowledge of the topics.
So, I followed the same approach. One should know about a wide variety of topics. Thinking of things without any connection leads to un-relatable work. So, never feel you have to be incredible at one thing. Often the best is achieved when you understand the fact that everything is important at the same time.
In addition, this also helped me in getting a good impression during an interview during my job search. I’m doing pretty well in my professional life and I’m happy with my work.
“Our life is never limited as we think, the world is an awesome place.”
3. Google has always helped
Google is my first go-to place when in doubt. Whenever I’m unsure of an answer, I think of Google. This has helped me in learning new concepts making me feel smarter than before.
The best part is that you get in-depth information quickly and that becomes easy to remember. So whenever you are in doubt, it is better than you ‘Google It’.
Some may disagree but there is nothing wrong in looking up unfamiliar terms in Google whenever you are stuck while solving crosswords. This is how you learn. No matter what you want to become in life, you can never do anything without more knowledge. Having a creative mind helps you to get where you want to.
4. I read a lot
When I was a child, I didn’t like reading so much but now I have been on a huge reading kick, trying my hands on the various genre. I don’t aim to finish every book written under the sun.
I try reading newspaper and fiction novels. From science fiction to business and romance, the spectrum is broad. Reading shifts the gears of my mind taking me into another world. This has opened up my brain making the grabbing process easier.
Do you find that to be a wow factor? If so, try the same.
5. I remember repeated words
When you have solved quite a lot of crosswords you understand that there are a few words that are being repeated a number of times in different crossword puzzles. These are usually short words.
The unique composition of these words makes them crossword constructor’s favorite who plug them into different corners of the word puzzle.
6. I focussed on deadlines
When I had to complete the puzzle within one hour, I tried doing so within 45 minutes. Although, I was unsuccessful when I just started solving them as a novice with time I eventually understood how to manage my time.
I find myself fully committed to solving crosswords. At that point in time, I don’t think about anything nor do I talk to anyone. It also helped increase my concentration power.
7. Put my phone on silent mode phone
I make sure my internet in on but my smartphone is in the silent mode. I don’t attend any calls nor do I message anyone. When I’m solving crosswords, I’m completely into it.
Meaningless things should never be in your way. I don’t distract myself no matter what. I aim at improving, exploring and experimenting. My focus was not solely on results. I always had that urge to learning. I knew there is a lot I can learn along the way and there has always been a scope of improvement.
8. Made the journey fun
If you feel, solving crossword is for nerds and it is something you can never do, you are mistaken, my friend. Finding the answers to the clues should be absolute fun. If you ask me, it is an awesome game.
The minute you will be making it a serious affair, you will feel it starts carrying a heavy emotional weight and you will lose the perspective. I’ve been there, I understand that.
9. Opening my imaginative wings
Whenever things went well, I always felt that positive energy but as soon as challenges came my way, I felt I hate solving the daily crosswords puzzles. There is always something to learn even when you are stuck at some point.
I entered into an imaginative world thinking what would be the answer to the question and to my surprise, things went well. So, unlock the power of your mind and open your imaginative wings.
10. Protected me from burnout
Earlier, when I’m was unable to solve the complete puzzle, I experienced a burnout situation. I paused the puzzle and took out some time to rest my mind. Did different tasks, engaged in various activities and after 5-6 hours come back to the puzzle.
In the past two years, I feel I have grown as a person. I’ve become a lot more patient, optimistic, extrovert, calm and kind. Crossword has made me a knowledgeable person and I’m glad I decided on to continue my habit of solving one each day.