In 1928, J R.R. Tolkien, was grading papers at Oxford. He came across a blank sheet of paper and wrote, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit” (Fellowship of the Ring, Spark Notes). This sentence sparked his imagination which grew to become the masterpiece that we know today. It would be nine years before his novel The Hobbit was published and twelve years before The Lord of the Rings was published.
We go through our days much like Tolkien. Grading papers, driving home, doing laundry, entering data, and completing everyday tasks. We have everyday problems and search for solutions. Ideas pop in our head. Maybe its a way to find a new job, buy a new car, save for a vacation, organize the house, cook a new meal, or overcome a personal obstacle. How do we take the ideas that pop in our head and run with it? Let it grow into a masterpiece like Tolkien did.
He simply wrote down a sentence that popped into his head. He was curious and his curiosity led him to answer questions. What is a hobbit? He figured out what a hobbit was and so much more. Can we simply say that he acted on an idea? His entire life supported his willingness to act and stimulated his creativity in this way.
1. It fit. Tolkien studied languages as a student and became a professor at Oxford. That life and work setting promoted thinking of stories, fables, trying ideas, writing, creativity, and pursuing publishing a book. Your life fits what you are thinking about and if it doesn’t then it’s time to make some changes.
2. He had support. Tolkien was surrounded by peers who wrote and published so it seems natural that he would do the same. In his study of languages, however, I can’t imagine anyone saying, Ronald write a fairy tale about a land that doesn’t exist. I can hear them saying, Ronald, write and we can critique you. We can accomplish whatever we want to. In the information age and with the connectivity of the Internet we can develop a network of support like he had. Build it.
3. Curiosity drove him. When Tolkien wrote those words on a blank sheet of paper there weren’t any big time publishers standing by with a check. He was curious. He had already been writing and explored this idea like he had others. Tolkien credits his taste for fairy-tales to his love for languages. He was already heading in that direction and curiosity about his idea spawned his life’s work. Curiosity can drive your ideas and help you explore them until they are realized.
4. Real life. Tolkien also credits his taste for fairy-tales to the hard reality of the war. Tolkien lost all, but one of his good friends in the war. Don’t many of us seek a new life after a major life event? It’s actually a very productive time. The ideas flow. It’s in the everyday that it’s hard to generate ideas and try them. Major life events often make us fearless. What else do we have to lose?
Trying your FIRST idea.
What needs to happen to take us over the threshold from thinking to doing? I watched my son’s best friend spin his wheels in the snow yesterday. My first thought was I should get him a floor mat. It will provide him friction and he will drive out. I just stood there. Dumb idea Marcy. Think again.
I thought of a book, a business, a trip, a way to organize, a meal, a new plan, a way we could live, of paying off our car, of getting a hair cut, and a plethora of ideas I have never tried. What needs to happen to take you over the threshold from thinking to doing?
You have to want to change, to try your idea, more than you want to stay the way you are. When you do then it’s a matter of doing it. The idea has generated as part of your life. It fits. Gather the support you need. An article, a friend, a support group, call someone, email me, watch a movie, read a book, make changes that support what you want to do. They will help you build momentum.
Get curious about life. How? Well you can wait until a major life event happens and punches a hole in your life, or you could punch the hole yourself. What if there was a different way of doing things, of living, and of working? Let the what if drive you? NO! We don’t have the answers. I don’t know where you will land! Just be curious and let it lead you somewhere great!
Life is hard. We only do this one time through. So what is stopping you from trying? I wonder what things would be like if we? Take the first step and find out. Something in you already wants to otherwise you wouldn’t have thought of it. Step out. Who knows where you may end up. Perhaps in your own Middle Earth. Perhaps in a hole in the ground. We won’t know if we don’t try.