I’ve had this idea for several months now but for some reason it just isn’t working out. I feel like I’ve tried everything and it’s not going anywhere.

If you’re a writer you might call that “writer’s block,” but anyone who creates anything experiences these inner battles. Sometimes you’re on a roll and things move freely and feel easy. Sometimes, no matter what you do, things don’t budge.

When all else fails, I go back to basics. Today I’ll be playing with blocks. What does that mean?

• If I’m trying to draw something and it doesn’t look right on the screen, I’ll step away from my desk and pull out a sketchbook. I’ll grab a handful of markers or even crayons and try again.

• If I’m writing and the words won’t come, I might squish some play doh into the desk next to my keyboard (those little party-favor-sized jars of doh come in handy). I’ll think about my topic and try to “say” it with the doh, instead. I’ll brainstorm new topics by making different shapes with the doh. Or I’ll stab it with my pencil a bunch of times because hey, writer’s block sucks! (Incidentally, play-doh is a great stress-reliever.)

• If the packaging I’m trying to design doesn’t look right, I’ll build something with Legos or wooden blocks instead. Think about a kid dumping out a pile of blocks every day, and every day making something different: same blocks, new creations.

Your “blocks” may be words, or colors and shapes, or wood or clay or paint or pixels, but play is what keeps them fresh and new. “In the beginner’s mind,” Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki said, “there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” Playing with blocks takes us back to the beginning.

I’ll be sketching with my crayons this afternoon, hoping to see more possibilities with this project. How do you play with blocks?