John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

The Daily Dozen

College pal Lisa recently posted this in the Facebook group she set up for our online P. G. Wodehouse book club:

P. G. Wodehouse's daily routine was to start the day at 7:30 a.m; do his "daily dozen" exercises; go to his study and write 1000 words, (in his younger years he averaged closer to 2000 words.) He did this seven days a week until his death at the age of 94.

My first reaction was to observe that I lack the discipline to write a thousand words a day. A couple hundred, maybe, unless I get in one of those zones where the words just flow, which I can assure you happens very rarely.

Later, Lisa added some information she'd found regarding the "daily dozen" on Wikipedia:

The daily dozen were invented by Walter Camp. "The names of the exercises in the original Daily Dozen, as the whole set became known, were hands, grind, crawl, wave, hips, grate, curl, weave, head, grasp, crouch, and wing. As the name indicates, there were twelve exercises, and they could be completed in about eight minutes."

Hands? Grind? Huh? Luckily, the article contained a link to a 1919 magazine article archived by Google Books that described the daily dozen. Each of the twelve exercises starts from the "cross" position: "the arms are to be extended laterally and horizontally, palms down." Got that? So, we start with Hands: "At the command, 'hands,' arms are brought down to sides from 'cross.' They should not be allowed to slap against sides." Hips and Head are pretty similar; in the former, you lower your arms and place your hands on your hips "shoulders, elbows and thumbs well back," while in the latter you place your hands behind your neck, "index fingers just touching and elbows forced back." You may not think these moves sound very difficult, but those three commands "are sometimes given in quick succession or varied on the chance of catching the unwary napping."

The exercises get more complex and rigorous from there, though in some cases not much more. Grind is extending your arms as in the cross only with the palms up, and rotating the arms in a circle ten times. Grate is raising your arms 45° from cross while inhaling deeply and raising your heels. Grasp is bending forward from the waist while standing in Head position. And so on. Not exactly what you'd call an intense aerobic workout. But the article says that's the point. "What's the use, starting out the day feeling like the end of a hard day's work?" Good thinking! And even though I'm hardly what you'd call a fit individual, I think it'd be easier for me to do this morning routine every day than it would for me to write 1,000 words.

That said, I've already written about 500 right here. (Not that all of them are my own, though I did type most of them, since I couldn't copy and paste from Google Books.) Maybe by the end of the year I will have worked my way up to a thousand.

Tags: omphaloskepsis

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