Gretchen Rubin

The Book “The Hobbit” Illustrates How Boredom Can Spark Creativity.

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In Episode 92, Elizabeth and I interviewed Manoush Zomorodi, the host and managing editor of the terrific podcast Note to Self — “the tech show about being human.”

Manoush has a fascinating book coming out soon, called Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self.

I got to read the galley, and in the book, she recounts a wonderful story, about J.R.R. Tolkien.

In the early 1930s, J.R.R. Tolkien was a Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, and he made extra money by grading papers. As he was doing this (very dull) work, he came upon a blank page. He wrote, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

Almost ten years after writing that first line, Tolkien completed his book, The Hobbit. And that line is, indeed, the first line of that novel. After his publisher asked for a sequel, he went on to write the giant towering masterpiece trilogy, The  Lord of the Rings.

Sometimes, boredom allows us to dream up some new idea.

Have you ever had a great idea, insight, or creative spark while being bored? While driving, while showering, while doing some boring household task? Perhaps this is one reason that walking and running seem to spark creativity.


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