CROSSWORDS

A passion for word games and puzzles can serve as a bridge to creative and expository writing. Letters and sounds are the building-blocks of words. Words form sentences and sentences convey meaning to inform readers, evoke emotions, and stimulate thinking. Working crosswords, playing scrabble, and completing word search exercises can pay dividends. Even the taking on the challenge of mazes and jigsaw puzzles can reap benefits.

Crosswords build vocabulary, cause the completer to redefine words, and test and solidify memory—all essential skills for the writer. Scrabble and word search exercises compel us to manipulate letters in a tactile and organic way, literally constructing, one-letter-at-a-time, the words so essential to our craft.

Mazes and jigsaw puzzles serve as metaphors for the writing task. Take the maze: Getting characters, and thereby the storyline, from point A to point B, through twists and turns, false starts, and unexpected detours is the very essence of creating the so-called story arc. As for the jigsaw puzzle: What could be more representative of the writer’s goals that assembling disparate puzzle pieces to create a meaningful whole? And, besides, jigsaw puzzles and word games foster patient plodding which is rewarded by a completed task.

And, if that ain’t writing, what is?

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