” “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
He scribbled it on the back of a page from a student’s exam booklet (a free source of scratch paper that Tolkien liked to use). Of course, he had no idea of what a hobbit was. Nobody did. But Tolkien realized that the curious phrase held some form of delight for him.
The key: Be observant. When you encounter an intriguing item, save it. Record those snippets. Cut out those tales of the weird and stick them in a file.”
– Philip Martin, “Six Writing Tips from J.R.R. Tolkien”