Lately, I've been playing word games to drive photographic ideas. When I see something I'd like to photograph, to make something of, I play word games.
It goes like this.
I take some pictures of whatever it is. Not really trying to make photographs as such, just to record it. I walk around and I think about it, and try to develop some sort of reaction to whatever it is. Then I leave. Later I look at my record shots and think some more, and try to boil things down to a few adjectives, a phrase, some words. Some sort of verbal catch-phrase that covers some of how I see the photos I want to shoot. It might be how I really feel about it "an erotic dream" or how I think it might wittily be portrayed, "gothic", or something else entirely. The words are about the final result, not the thing I am considering making the subject, although those two might overlap.
Then I mull those words over, along with the record shots, and try to develop a shooting script. What techniques are going to produce a good result? When should I be shooting? Do I need props, lights, equipment? Will things need to get moved around? What lens(es) should I deploy?
Then I go and shoot it.
Then I look at those pictures. Either we're going someplace at this point or we're not. If we're going someplace, I'm probably going to return and shoot it again, having learned some things, e.g. "no, no, it should be raining!". If we're not, then into the bin with the idea. Or, I suppose, a new idea might arise, new words or phrases, a new reaction, idea, feeling.
I've done this with a couple projects over the last couple years and it seems to produce immensely satisfying results.