Here’s that all too common scenario- you’ve got a big article opportunity that you need to crush or an important client that needs creative proposals stat! But, when you finally put pen to paper (or, more likely, fingers to keyboard!) nothing comes to mind. So, what do you when your creative juices just won’t flow? Here are a few easy tips to help release those creativity flood gates:

Think inside the box.

This probably contradicts every piece of advice that you’ve been told about creativity, but sometimes, having a world of options to choose from can be overwhelming and actually worsen that mental block. So, to spark ideas, start putting parameters on whatever project you are working on. This narrows down your universe of options and helps you focus your thoughts.

So, if you have to write an article on the restaurant industry, start making your box of parameters to limit your options- pick the restaurant type (fast food, fast casual, fine dining etc.), the size, the revenue, etc. The more parameters you add, the more you will hone your focus and your ideas will flow from there.

Phone a friend.

When contestants on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” got stuck on a particular question, they were allowed to phone a friend and ask for their input. You can use this strategy to your advantage when you’re stuck for ideas, too. Put questions out to your network, your family, your friends, your colleagues and even your employees. Nothing can spark creativity quite like brainstorming, so don’t be afraid to ask for input.

Your social media communities can be a great creativity ignitor, as well. Putting a question or query out there can trigger all kinds of unexpected opinions and responses, and while you’ll likely have to sift through some snark, there will no doubt be some ideas that turn that light switch on in your brain.

Write anything.

There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page or screen as the clock keeps ticking towards your deadline with nothing to show for it. So, force yourself to start writing anything at all, even if it has nothing to do with your task at hand, even if you think that it’s lame or even if it’s something that you’ve written before. Just the activity of writing anything at all can unclog that creativity block and before you know it, ideas will pour out of you.

If this is difficult for you, set a timer, even if it’s just for 2 minutes, and write anything that pops into your mind, even if it’s nonsensical, without worrying about the content or quality.

Stir your emotions.

Creativity can really be unleashed when you tap into your emotions. So, think about things that stir up your emotions- what makes you angry, sad, scared or ecstatic? If you can’t think of anything, just check the internet or social media for some emotion inspiration (the news definitely has no shortage of things that will cause you to feel angry and sad!). Even problems can be a great source of inspiration, so don’t be afraid whip up those emotions.

And when all else fails, a simple change of scenery can really do the trick.

Follow these tips and those creative juices will flow like lava!

Thanks to Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes, Charmaine Hammond of Hammond International Inc, Wendi Henderhan of Henderhan Law Offices, and Abigail Wurf of Abigail Wurf Coaching, LLC for the inspiration behind some of these ideas.