Enjoy solving puzzles, crossword and riddles? How about crafting a career out of creating puzzles? This brain gymnastics can be a rewarding career option provided you have the desired skills, knowledge and interest to create myriad puzzles. Putting the clues together, checking and re-checking the grid and ensuring reader's interest is an art for which patience and practice are the pre-requisites.
There are various kinds of puzzles like cryptograms, code words, maze, crossword, Sudoku (numbers and alphabets), photo-puzzles, plexers, logic puzzles, spot-the-differences, Maths puzzles, picture puzzles or riddles.
Self taught art
Nitta Jaggi, who has entered the Limca Book of Records (2009) for making the maximum number of thematic crosswords and has also written many books on puzzles, says, "Unfortunately there is no institute in India where you can learn to create puzzles, it's a self taught art".
According to Nitaa, qualities for creating crosswords are that one must be good at grammar, be fond of reading many newspapers in a day and be well-versed with dictionary. "Develop a habit of consulting a dictionary for new words, this will enable you to know synonyms and antonyms for a word."
Vivek Astunkar, who conducts Vedic Maths workshops and contributes puzzles and crosswords for leading newspapers, adds, "One must have general awareness besides numerological and analogical ability, analytical mind. You need a lot of patience and perseverance to create puzzles". Astunkar, an aeronautical engineer, gave up his job at a software company a few years ago to teach Vedic math, use puzzle as one of the technique to teach children and conduct puzzle, magic workshops.
How to go about it?
"This career doesn’t have a simple vertical ladder that one can climb step by step. The best way to start is to create puzzles with a pencil, eraser on a blank page," he says. Traditional tools like dictionaries and thesauruses are still basic equipment for constructors, but thanks to the Internet, a wider range of resource and reference material is available than ever before. One has to make the reader addict to one’s columns if you are doing it for newspapers so that the reader looks forward to it everyday. For beginners, it is best to start with simple spot-the-difference type activities," advises Nitaa, the crossword constructor, who churns out crosswords for leading dailies, computer and IT magazines and financial newspapers.
A crossword creator should be able to churn out puzzles on various subjects, be it Bollywood or finance, as specific magazines caters to specific interests, so one has to keep learning all the time.
According to Rekha Bajaj, an education consultant and teacher, who uses puzzles and crosswords for teaching children and training teachers, “Crosswords and puzzles are attention grabbers in the classroom. Children love to solve puzzles and they pay more attention. Tables, chemical formulas can all be taught through crosswords in an interesting way."
Crossword puzzles on the board are used for teaching, testing and revising the concepts. Corporate e-learning training programs also use crossword and puzzles to a great extent for evaluating the product and process knowledge of their employees, etc. A puzzle writer can work for a publishing house, magazines, board game manufacturers, kiddie's newspapers and books publisher, online gaming companies, computer edutainment games, corporates’ in-house magazines, schools, etc.
Astunkar feels that the puzzle writer as a full time career is yet to arrive. The field is in infant stage but it is definitely an exciting career option which comes with the advantage of flexitime and creativity. For Nitaa, who took it up as a hobby and now is in a full-time profession of creating puzzles, “If one is good at it, there is no dearth of opportunity and guaranteed returns. The thrill of solving or creating a crossword or puzzle knows no limit,” she concludes.