Children's writing

Crafting Puzzles for Kids

I lead a dual life: needlework designer, children’s author. I sometimes think I should give one up in order to do a better job of the other. (Any self-employed person will tell you there’s more to do to run a business than one person can do. Two businesses? Who do I think I am, Wonder Woman?) But which would I give up? That would be like Sophie’s Choice. Thank goodness I’m not Sophie.

Today, I’m focusing on children’s puzzles. For a number of years, I’ve been submitting puzzles to a particular kids’ magazine during the first half of the month. I’m not under contract to do so; I just do it. They can take them or leave them, and they do both. I have a self-imposed deadline of the 10th of the month to get the puzzles in, and I usually do, though I’ve taken a few months off now and then.

How long have I been doing this? I’m on my fifth editor at this magazine. My sense is that the puzzle page is an entry-level gig for editors, and most want to move on to something else after a while. Many writers also consider puzzles entry-level gigs. They create and submit puzzles, which are always in demand, to get some credits under their belts, but aspire to other kinds of writing. Me? I’m a lifetime puzzler. I aspire to other kinds of writing, too, but I like creating puzzles and plan to do so indefinitely.

At a writing conference I met a woman who introduced herself as a fellow puzzler. She said she had started her writing career with puzzles and had sold “a lot, like…ten.” Wow.  At that point, I had sold over 100 puzzles and still considered myself off the children’s writing radar. That was the moment I started to consider that maybe I had accomplished something.

Puzzle writing is not glamour writing by any stretch of the imagination. Puzzles and puzzle books don’t get awards. There are few famous puzzle writers. I don’t care. They’re fun and challenging. They allow me play with words, be silly and creative. They’re great for kids, teaching them how to think, not what to think. And they provide a significant addition to my writing income. So…I’m off to create some puzzles.

Categories: Children's writing