From Making Crosswords out of Boredom to Being Published in Nytimes

Mike Robin a real estate agent thought that it would be interesting to start making his own crossword puzzles in the early days of the pandemic. Little did he know that not long after he would get his puzzle published in the New York Times crossword.

He compares the process of creating a puzzle as riding a bike. In the beginning it is a hard exercise then as you do it more, you get used to it and enjoy doing it, figuring playful punny words while brainstorming for ideas. It is no longer a challenge.

To make matters more serious Robin, bought a crossword making software and dedicated a good amount of time to the puzzles almost every day.

He then started hoping or dreaming about being good enough one day, to be able to get his crossword published by the NY Times crossword. Even though the NYTimes magazine encourages everyone to give it a try, among hundreds of submitted puzzles only a fraction make it to the publication.

And so he did. He dedicated some time to his new goal. Make some crosswords, send them to the times and see what will happen. The rejections followed as you can imagine. But with each rejection came the instructions on how to improve and send a better puzzle. Hobin was very persistent and this puzzle hobby got the hold of him because he started seeing clues everywhere from daily chitchats to songs or movies, everyday he was engaged in this word play you might say. Every hobby you invest yourself to will dictate your daily routine. Then in the last Dec after being rejected more than 20 times Hobin got a new response.

The response was not a yes but it was not rejected either. He was asked to rework it a little bit, make a few improvements here and there and then a few days later he was published and as a Sunday puzzle. The theme of the puzzle was “Bring Your ‘A’ Game”. As you probably already know, each puzzle on the NYTimes comes with a compensation of $1,000 or more. Nobody does it for the money though, it is the pleasure of being published that tops anything else.