We’ve all had that moment: You're staring at the blinking cursor on your computer screen blanking on what to write. Or, have been in a meeting when the client states "we need a ground-breaking idea for this or that project" and then pointedly looks at you for enlightenment.

Many have also learned that it is a rare person who can just blurt out a creative idea on command. It takes effort, time and nurturing – which is an unlikely scenario considering a 2016 survey conducted by Morar Consulting found that 40 percent of office workers in the United States and Canada feel burned out.

I can’t remove your stress, but I can share a few tools I’ve found to be helpful for me to tap into my inner creator despite stress and sleep deprivation. Maybe they can help you too.

Be a voracious consumer of information. Read about industries relevant to your work (or not). Read the daily news, read about things that make you smile, hell, read fiction. You never know what will inspire your next creative idea. Being in touch with your surroundings and information that gets your brain cranking will help spark your thoughts. Some of my favorites: The Economist and CBS Sunday Morning. Also, don’t discount your favorite dramas and sitcoms. Witty dialogue and pop-culture references (shameless Gilmore Girls plug) help us develop relatable ideas.

Find a creative buddy and collaborate. No one works well in a vacuum, and if they say they do, they’re lying. While people can come up with ideas on their own, those ideas are usually stronger through support and mental volleyball with others. Each person brings a unique perspective, take advantage of the extra brain power.

Fill your space with creative tools. There are endless tools. I enjoy using Rory’s Story Cubes; they are a great warm-up tool when you’re looking for a place to start. Brainsparker is another great prompt platform that will give you a starting point. Another thing, anti-inspiration. Find bad stuff and look at how you can make it better; turn that trash into treasure.  

Don’t kill the creator’s creations too soon. Be kind to yourself and others. At first, all ideas are just a seed. It is important to nurture them and let them sprout. Killing an idea too soon may create a dead end where a theme park would have been. That said, when you have an idea built out and believe it is strong, that’s when it is your job, and the job of your peers, to attack it and see if it can withstand the heat. If it can’t, that theme park wasn’t meant to be.

There is no one way to be creative, but hopefully these tips will give you a little direction and inspiration the next time you’re tasked with turning lemons into lemonade.

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