Corey Wilks, Psy.D.

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Be the Creator Living in the Arena

What image comes to mind when you think of a “proper” writer?

Most people have this preconceived notion that a real writer is someone who wears a scarf and sits around waxing poetic about the symbolism of the curtains being blue, how bestsellers are only read by troglodytes, or pontificating about how René Girard’s concept of mimetic desire has influenced postmodernism (whatever the fuck that means).

As if you have to have a Master of Fine Arts in snobbery to call yourself a writer.

Well if this is what it means to be a proper writer, then I never want to be one.

But I’ve seen this idea stop so many people from calling themselves a writer, or ever hitting publish.

They think, “Well, I don’t look or act like that, so I must not be a real writer. And if I ever publish anything, those ‘proper’ writers will tear me apart.”

What if I told you there’s a better way to be a writer, or any kind of creator, without turning into a pompous ass like this?

And, what if I laid out exactly why the opinions of these “proper” writers don’t mean anything?

Here’s what I mean…

•••

Scarfs in the Stands

I saw a tweet the other day from one of these types of pompous-ass writers. He claimed Tim Urban “magnifies mind-numbingly trite observations into ironically overwrought thinkpieces, creating a kind of pseudo-longform, storybook reading experience for the same people who buy adult coloring books.”

Elitist rhetoric like this keeps so many people from sharing their ideas with the world.

It reminds me of a scene from South Park where a bunch of snobs sit around farting into wine glasses and sniffing them because they’re so self-righteous and stuck up.

This intellectual elitism is a goddamn plague in the world, especially in the creator space.

Think of how long it may have taken you to start sharing your ideas, or how many people you know who want to create content but are terrified—because of elitist pricks like this.

You know the kind of writer I’m talking about.

They typically look something like this:

It’s like their dress code requires a scarf…

But here’s the great news: You don’t have to be like them to call yourself a writer—or any kind of creator.

I don’t ever want to be like these Scarfs—intellectual elitists sitting around mentally masturbating to how much better they are than everyone else.

Because people like this don’t live in the arena and will never create content that changes the world.

Here’s what I mean…

•••

Stepping Into the Arena

I used to think being intelligent meant I was supposed to be arrogant and pompous—like so many Scarfs are.

It’s easy to sit around and judge everyone else, because there’s always some fault you can hone in on if you look hard enough.

Then I came across Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech, and it changed everything:

Scarfs don’t make the world a better place.

They’re just critics comfortably sitting in the stands, pointing their fingers and judging everyone else.

Their opinions are irrelevant. Their ideas are irrelevant. Their existence is irrelevant.

Because they don’t do anything. They don’t build. They don’t grow. They don’t live.

They just complain, judge, and look down their noses at everyone else.

Creators who live in the arena are the only ones who matter—because they’re the ones who move society forward and empower others to reach their potential.

I’m a creator because I want to change lives—not sit around debating the merits of post-modernism and its effects on the neo-Renaissance of what the fuck ever is in vogue right now.

And after I stepped into the arena, I realized my favorite creators who lived in the arena had one thing in common:

They were Warrior Poets…

•••

The Power of Warrior Poets

A Warrior Poet is someone who engages in both intellectual and physical pursuits to become the best version of themselves in all areas of life.

They don’t waste time criticizing because they’re too busy creating and helping others—and themselves—reach their potential.

Some deadlift. Some do martial arts. Some run their own businesses.

But all do something that forces them to embrace discomfort, cultivate tenacity and grit, and overcome adversity on a regular basis.

Here are a few of my favorite Warrior Poets:

Left to right: Brad Stulberg, Tim Ferriss, Dan Koe, Sahil Bloom, Jocko Willink, Tobi Emonts-Holley, Tim Stoddart, James Clear, and Nick “Chewy” Albin.

Side Note: I’m well aware these are all dudes. These are just people I’m most familiar with and were top-of-mind when writing this piece. I’d love to find more representative examples of other Warrior Poets. So, if you have more diverse examples, let me know. I’d love to check them out.

They do hard shit daily. They take care of their families. They don’t just read philosophy, they embody it.

Their lives inform their writing, and their writing informs their lives.

Which makes them phenomenal writers.

Even Teddy Roosevelt himself practiced wrestling, boxing, judo, jiu jitsu, and other martial arts in addition to publishing 47 books and dozens of other works (plus the whole being a president thing).

Warrior Poets are the creators I most respect, am inspired by, and endeavor to emulate. Some are current friends, some are (hopefully) future friends.

Because not only do they live in the arena, they’ve figured out something Scarfs never will:

Living in the arena will make your content infinitely better than anything a Scarf can create, because it’s enriched with your lived experiences, the fact you have skin in the game, and the insights that only come from doing.

Lifting makes me a better creator because it teaches me the importance of consistency.

BJJ makes me a better creator because it teaches me the skills of adaptability and emotional control.

Entrepreneurship makes me a better creator because it teaches me the strategies of value creation.

And being a creator makes me better in all these domains because it teaches me the power of collecting, synthesizing, and communicating complex concepts.

This is the power of being a creator who lives in the arena—of being a Warrior Poet instead of a Scarf who sits around stroking their ego with an unearned sense of superiority.

•••

Final Thoughts

Do you have to lift heavy things or do martial arts to be a Warrior Poet? Of course not.

Anyone can become a Warrior Poet and live in the arena—as long as you understand the philosophy behind it.

  • It’s about effort, not ego.
  • It’s about creating, not criticizing.
  • It’s about purpose, not pontification.

Stepping into the arena—living in the arena—with the other Warrior Poets is terrifying, exhilarating, and inspiring.

But the world has enough critics.

It needs more creators living in the arena.

I don’t want to be with the Scarfs sitting comfortably in the stands looking down their noses at everyone.

I want to be in the arena, with the Warrior Poets, putting myself and my ideas out there to make the world a better place.

And if I fail, at least I fail daring greatly. So that my place shall never be with those cold and timid Scarfs who neither know victory nor defeat.

I hope to see you in the arena.


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