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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Sudoku—My Go-To Relaxer by Marilyn Levinson

Whenever I feel the need to take a breather between activities or a respite from the Coronavirus news, I plop down in my recliner and reach for a Sudoku puzzle. I am not a math person by any means, but doing Sudoku soothes me and probably lowers my blood pressure as well. A Sudoku puzzle consists of nine squares set in one large square. Eighty-one possibilities, though some numbers are filled in throughout the puzzle as clues. Your job is to fill in the blank spaces to that every small square, every horizontal and every vertical line includes the numbers 1 to 9. Only one answer is possible for any one spot.

I can't explain why this activity is both a challenge as well as a calming experience, only that it is so. In fact, in the many years that I've been doing Sudoku, I have often wondered if it's an addiction. Sometimes I even choose it over reading, my favorite activity. After writing fiction, of course. Somehow, putting the right number in its allotted spot gives me the sense there's order in the world.

As a multi-tasker, I often do Sukoku while watching television or talking on the phone.
I love the ripple effect of filling in one square, which often leads to finding other numbers for other squares. Kind of like when you solve a plotting problem that enables you to move on with the book you're writing.

Sometimes I wish life fell into place in an orderly manner like a Sudoku puzzle. Other times, when I've screwed up a puzzle or can't finish it, I wonder why I've been wasting my time on filling in a series of numbers when I could have been reading or even — writing. But then I remind myself that I can't be productive every waking minute of the day. And admit the benefits I get from doing Sudoku are worth the time and effort as I reach for another puzzle.


Annette said...

I'm glad you've found something to soothe you, Marilyn.

Jackie Layton said...

Hi Marilyn,

I include Sudoku puzzles in the third book of A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery series. I just finished the rough draft this week, and I learned a lot about sudoku.

Thanks for sharing!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Agreed. If Sudoku takes your brain to a different place, it's an excellent diversion. I take long walks and weed my garden.

Debra H. Goldstein said...

It's funny.. as soothing as you find Sudoku, simply looking at a square ready to be done is just the opposite for me.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Annette, Jackie, Margaret and Debra, Thanks for stopping by this morning. These days we all need something to calm our nerves.

Jackie, interesting that you've included Sudoku in your latest mystery.

KM Rockwood said...

I like sudokus, but not the really hard ones. The best thing about them is that you have all the information you need to successfully complete the puzzle, if you try hard enough, you'll always get to that happily-ever-after ending. Eventually.

Kait said...

I'm learning sudoku by baby steps - it is fun, but so challenging and I can't imagine multi-tasking it! You rock! Crossword puzzles are my go to. Always have a book of Sunday New York Times puzzles at hand for downtime.

Marilyn Levinson said...

And you can always move on to another puzzle.

I have a very old (yellowing pages) colection of NY Times Sunday puzzles. I hardly go there any longer. All those esoteric words I wonder if they still include in crossword puzzles.

TL TL said...

I do sudoku while listening to, half-watching, episodes of "Murder, She Wrote". For some reason, those two activities go well together. And the bonus is that there are so many episodes of the show that by the time I reach the last one, the first one will seem brand new again !