Between the chaos that march usually is for me, deciding last minute to put a team together for the cryptex hunt, and how bad my executive dysfunction sometimes gets, I knew I needed to do some prep for Enigmarch. The prompts aren’t known yet*, so I couldn’t exactly plan ahead like I’ve done in the past for inktober. That raises the question; What can I do?

Step one is to make sharing easy. It’s something I can easily get stuck on. I usually spent far too long making something look good (or at least decent). A template is the answer for that. 

Step two is a list of puzzles I find easy to make. What can I fall back on if I have no inspiration? 

  • bridges/hashi 
  • Sudoku 
  • Maze
  • Logic grid
  • Code word
  • Wordsearch 
  • Quiz (arguably not a puzzle, but I like my quizzes)

(I’m sure I’ve forgotten some, but a partial list is better than no list)

Step three is to have a plan for brainstorming. For me it’s the coming up with ideas that I find hard. Once I have that figured out, it’s generally pretty simple. 

Here’s the steps I plan to take on the I-don’t-know days:

Word cloud/mindmap

What related words come to mind? What does it mean? What kind of puzzl-y things come to mind? A thesaurus and dictionary are useful for this too

Searching around the internet

A google search with the word + puzzle might bring up something interesting. I do a lot of puzzles here. Maybe there are puzzles that fit the word? What about the MIT mystery hunt archive? Just put the word in the search bar and see what comes up. (the puzzled pint archive too maybe, although that’s not as easy to search) The EnigMarch resources page is another place that would be helpful to browse on an uninspired day. This all feeds back into the word cloud. 

Leave it for a couple of hours

Inspiration usually strikes me when I’m doing other things. It’s a good idea to check the prompt as soon as you can to maximise thinking time. In the meantime, get on work, do the dishes, clean that thing you’ve been putting off. Give the cat some attention. Go for a walk. Listen to Escape this Podcast.

Talk to someone about the prompt.

 A discord chat, the EnigMarch subreddit, your partner, the cat, the dog, a rubber duck. 

Step four is remembering it’s okay to skip a day. Life can get in the way. Ideas may not turn up at all. There’s nothing wrong with skipping a day. Remember not to beat yourself up over it. Maybe you’ll come up with an idea of it in a couple of days, maybe you won’t. It’s okay either way.

* Because I’m helping behind the scenes I know the prompts but I’m not thinking ahead on purpose