Little children play in various ways.Due to the broad nature of play in childhood, it has proved notoriously difficult to define and empirically explore. Scientific studies of creativity have basically concluded that it can’t be taught, as it is a “facility” rather than a learned skill. Putting it very crudely, creativity is the ability to play. And, to be able to turn that facility on and off when necessary.
I consider myself creative, playful and prone to fantasy. I know others who are not like this, and probably never could be and therefore the scientific studies and their results make a lot of sense to me.
To think of writing as ‘playing with words’ sometimes frees me up in the creative process. The pressure to produce and ship something is lessened when I think that all I have to do is start playing and poking around, and eventually something will come up that is mildly interesting, inspiring and then publishable.
If you get stuck on a project, start playing with all the boundaries and assumptions you make on that project. Just to play with it all might free you up.