In Wired to Create (2015), authors Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire speak often of imaginative play, the kind young children engage in, and trace its role in creativity. “A sense of play, even in the face of fear, is an important asset when generating new and different ideas. Thinking differently doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming; just making the conscious effort to see things in a new light can yield results. … making an effort to think unconventionally can help us connect the dots in new and innovative ways by increasing associational thinking.”
Associational thinking, is of course, critical to writers, as we pair unconnected images or character traits to create a new place or person who still, somehow, is recognizable as true.