Why Do Millions of Us Drive Ourselves Crazy Over a Crossword? Will Shortz, Puzzle Master, Has A Clue

Thinking of clues keeps Will Shortz up at night. After all as Puzzle Master at NPR and puzzle editor of The New York Times, he has to come up with 16,000 clues a year—that’s nearly 50 twisty clues a day.

“Just as I’m about to drift off to sleep I may think of a terrific clue,” says Shortz. “It’s the eternal writer’s dilemma. I have to either wake up and write it down, or think really really really hard and hope the idea will still be there in the morning.”

He opts for the latter. And the chances that he remembers? Not bad, he insists.

To say that Shortz is interested in puzzles is to call World War 2 a skirmish. Shortz has been constructing puzzles since he was 8 when his mother handed him a blank grid to occupy him while her friends came to play bridge. He sold his first puzzle at 14. And in lieu of a regular college degree, he followed an independent course of study in puzzles, graduating as the world’s first enigmatologist. Continue reading