Hello Cruciverbalists, I'm excited to make my New York Times debut! I'm only fourteen, but it was inevitable that I would get into solving and constructing crossword puzzles. From an early age, I watched my entire family solve the NYT puzzles, including my grandmother and grandfather. At nine, I started solving the puzzles with my dad. More accurately, I would sit and watch him fill them in. Now, I can solve the Monday and Tuesday puzzles on my own, and portions of the rest of the week. At ten, I started constructing crossword puzzles with my dad, and at eleven, I made my first solo crossword.
During the first summer of the pandemic, I had a lot of free time and made 10-15 puzzles, including my first themelesses. My strategy for constructing a themeless is to find a manageable looking grid (68-72 words) and then try to fill it with as many of my favorite words as possible, making NO compromises. My basic approach for themelesses is that any liability, especially if it's four or more letters, means the puzzle needs reworking. I have the same basic approach for themed puzzles. Overall, I would say that I prefer constructing themed puzzles, but filling a puzzle with my favorite words can be just as fun as a great theme.
Thanks to the Times for greatly improving my puzzle's clues (I've gotten better!) I have a Thursday waiting in the queue, so see you again soon!