The ‘Wordles to Live By’ Bit

Fifteen words.

My favorite way lately to start a morning (most often, a weekend-y one) is to ease into the day by settling down on the couch with a mug of coffee to play fifteen Wordle-type games!

Along with much of the globe, I was introduced about a year ago to the NY Times daily challenge of picking a five-letter word out of the air within six tries – and now it’s a bit of an addiction. I look on it as a healthy one though since Wordle is a fun little exercise for my sometimes foggy, often distracted, and ever aging brain. I also like to think it adds respectability to the fact that my favorite thing to do in the morning is to get up bright and early – and immediately settle back down on a couch.

What I wouldn’t have guessed is that playing the game could reveal some telling facets of my personality!

I mean, I really didn’t see this coming. I haven’t ever been much into playing games in general. I own two Monopoly boards – but they adorn my shelves, unused, more as testaments to two chief passions in my life than to any great enthusiasm for passing “Go”:

(Live long and get lots of goals!)

I’m not a big card player either, even though I owe my life to the game of Bridge since the folks met while playing it in college. And I’ve never had a head for anything involving numbers – so pursuits like Sudoku, Rummikub and figuring out tips at restaurants have always been completely out of the realm.

I do, however, get the origin of my dual addiction for Words With Friends, which I start many a morning playing as well. The extreeemely similar game of Scrabble was one of the few board games I did grow up playing – so it makes sense that years after finding Words With Friends, I still have lengthy streaks going with a few buddies. Also with acquaintances. Occasionally with strangers. And necessarily with a second mug of coffee.

(Oh, the hours spent staring in serious group silence at the board inside!)

Every once in a while over the years, I’ve played other types of word games – mainly, the old-fashioned kind you work out on paper. I sometimes pick up a crossword puzzle book in the airport to pass the transit time (the only instance where I regret not carrying a pencil anymore, as I always need the ability to erase…). And during the lockdown, I went through an intense acrostic puzzle phase. When the world opened back up though, that somewhat nervous habit swiftly disappeared (along with the habit of keeping my apartment neat). 

But I’ve stuck with Wordle – partly, I think, because I enjoy the chance each morning to feel like I’ve accomplished a little something right out of the gate!


Having majored in English, I thought the game would be a breeze (cuz words, you know, are kinda like my thing). But while my track record has become pretty good, there are still wordy nuances I struggle to remember at times – and which definitely cost me when I don’t. For example:

  • In trying to visualize a word, I need to keep in mind that the same letter can appear more than once – like in the word “ninny” (which is also what I feel like when I forget this).
  • I can narrow a word down to four out of the five letters, have their placement exactly, and still have many more word possibilities that I’d better figure out a way to explore in however many guesses I have left:
  • And when I’m absolutely certain I’ve got the right word, I should remember it can probably be another word…

Okay, so I know it doesn’t change my life (or the fact that I should be doing laundry) – but on mornings when I manage to avoid these pitfalls and determine a Wordle word? It is such a joy!

And as an added benefit, I think my approach to the game does shed light on my approach to problem solving in the real world – which certainly couldn’t hurt. As Ted Lasso would say: “What have I got to learn here?”

Well first, I never sought advice on strategies for playing the game. I just dove in and have been figuring it out through trial and error. That’s typical for me and, if I’m honest, it’s worked out okay – but it probably wasn’t the easiest way to go.

Also typical – but less of a path to success – is my tendency to move through a game too quickly. Sometimes, in my rush to plug in a guess, I’ll have left a letter in the same position I already determined wasn’t correct. And that one missed opportunity to build on what I know can mean the difference between winning and just wanting to go back to bed. (I’m kidding! Mostly.)

Juggling multiple words at once has added another layer of excitement and – um – call it “opportunity for growth”. In addition to Wordle, I now play variations where I’m trying to sort out two, four and eight words at the same time, which I think adds up to fifteen words (but again, that’s math, so…). In any case, those levels of morphological multi-tasking can set me unhelpfully on edge.

Sometimes while trying to decipher multiple words at once, I focus so hard on determining just one that I completely drop the ball on all the others. And with more guesses per game (also with that need for speed…), I sometimes simply neglect to scroll back up far enough to review all of where I’ve been before blundering on ahead. Making this mistake particularly annoys me.

At any rate, I don’t know how many times I’ve concluded at some point in a game – sometimes quite early – that I’ve messed up and there’s a word I can’t possibly figure out in the chances I have left. But you know, I’ve discovered nearly as many times that when I take a deep breath and stay with it, things work out after all!

And yeah, that does leave those occasions where I have to accept that it just isn’t the day to improve my win percentage – that, say, in playing “m-i-g-h-t”, “s-i-g-h-t”, “f-i-g-h-t” and “n-i-g-h-t”, I simply didn’t guess it “r-i-g-h-t”. That’s when I like to remember I’ll get another chance tomorrow – that I can look forward to a new Wordle grid which, as Anne of Green Gables would agree, will be fresh with no mistakes in it yet!

(What will my choice be?)

So – that’s fifteen words and as many chances to have a little fun and maybe hone some skills at approaching a challenge! I will say that I’ve drawn the line at fifteen though. I mean at some point, I have to make time actually to get out in the world and put those skills to use, right?

Truth be told, timing is a bit too tight most mornings to allow for fifteen games (a girl’s gotta get her beauty rest!). But I do try at least to fit in the one and only Wordle game. As I make my way through it, I work to keep organized and focused (but not too narrowly focused!), to look for all the possibilities, not to miss an opportunity to learn something, and to remain optimistic to the last that I can and will get it done.

Not a bad way to start the day, I think – along with the coffee, of course!


  1. I do Wordle, followed by Waffle, Quordle and Squareword each morning. The big problem for me is remembering American spelling 🙂 I also pick up the NY Times Spelling Bee, but again it rejects words common to me (the most irritating is nappy…..) which can be frustrating at times.

    1. Sounds like a fellow addict! I also do Quordle but I’d have to check out the others. And yes – I bet the alternate spellings create yet another challenge to solving words… Thanks for reading – and lots of luck!

  2. Mike Jackson · · Reply

    Here’s my take on the same issue:
    Since publishing that last July, I’ve actually – just the once – solved Wordle in 1! When I ‘cleaned’ my phone recently, I lost access to all my previous scores, mostly 4s and 5s, quite a few 3s. A normal distribution, almost. Now I’m much better at Worldle, with a ‘batting average’ of almost 95% on first guess. Both get my brain in synch first thing in the morning.

    1. Thanks for sharing this! It was a fun read and I see we have lots in common – although I haven’t tried some of those other games. I also lost my early, learning-curve-type scores when I changed phones, so my current percentage is more impressive than when I started. And congrats – I’ve NEVER gotten the word on the very first try! Thanks for reading – and enjoy your games!

  3. I just do the original Wordle – with all the same issues you have, plus the American spelling as mentioned above. There was one the other day ending in -or rather than -our. I did get it so was quite proud of myself for remembering!

    1. Another fellow Wordler! And yes, we are separated at times by a common language, aren’t we? But glad you still prevailed! Thanks for reading!

  4. I do wordle at night just before bedtime. Usually my cat joins me, for her last lap time before her bedtime! It’s a fun activity with it’s quick gratification and minimal time investment.

    1. Aw, that sounds like a nice routine! And it is a nice quick little pastime – unless you keep adding more games… Thanks for sharing!

  5. Like you, for the past 384 days I have been starting my morning with Wordle. 😀

    1. Ah, brilliant minds thinking alike! 😉

  6. I am a Wordle addict and like you I get up early, make a cup of tea and snuggle down on the sofa with my ipad. I also play Wordblitz and Planet Quiz with friends.

    1. Another brilliant mind! I don’t know if I dare try those other games though – I might end up never leaving the house…

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