Want to Help Build My Upcoming Interview with Dr. Brené Brown?

A little background before I get to the juice behind the above title: Most of you know that I went through a dark time in medicine. At home on stress leave, I asked myself not only if I would I return to practice, but how.

Only weeks after I resumed practice, determined to model the health I tried to facilitate in others or leave, a minor miracle occurred. In a routine department meeting, I met Dr. Ronna Jevne, a Ph.D psychologist. She spoke about hope and it’s role in the doctor-patient relationship, of its impact on health outcomes.

Everything within me seemed to literally breathe a “yes!” I knew she provided the missing link to connect what I’d learned in my time in burnout with my work as a family doctor. It was a no-brainer to introduce myself and follow her into some of the most rewarding times in my medical career.

This summer I went through similar soul-searching about my writing. Again, once I was through the other side, I met someone.  

When I say “met” that’s metaphoric. More precisely, a fellow writer linked to the video below on Facebook. I watched it. I read the woman’s book. I could immediately see the applicability of her work to writing and how it would reinforce some of my own happy conclusions. (Isn’t it nice when science, heart and spiritual principles agree?)

Anyway, Dr. Brené Brown is a Ph.D research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She studies courage, shame, vulnerability, and authenticity. She speaks my language. That’s why I’m absolutely thrilled to tell you guys I’ll be interviewing  her for Writer Unboxed in March. The focus will be on the implications of her research for the writing or artistic path — in other words, how might one become or remain a wholehearted writer, given the demands of the modern world?

At present I’m putting the finishing touches on my questions. Inspired by reader month at Writer Unboxed, it occurred to me that you guys might like some input into what I ask. I won’t commit to using your inquiries, but if they are something I haven’t covered and that I think would be helpful, I will.

Work for you?

I’m embedding one video below and here’s the Youtube link to the other. I also recommend her book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, which I understand has gone into second printing already.

If you’re a certain kind of person, you’re now itching to see more of her work. Here are links to her Facebook page — although I give her another two weeks until she’ll exceed her allotment of friends and be forced to move to a fan page — and her Twitter feed.

Would love to know your thoughts!

12 thoughts on “Want to Help Build My Upcoming Interview with Dr. Brené Brown?

  1. Hi Jan – I don’t know if this is one of your questions, but I am a writer and a psychology student, and would like some information on how I can include some of my psychology theories of behavior- regarding needs, wants, motivations, etc. with my characters.


  2. Jan, this is quite an opportunity for you and for us. Your intro. speaks to me and I’m encouraged to buy and read Dr. Brown’s book. I’ll also follow up with the Youtube and other links you’ve provided to Dr. Brown’s site. I’m not sure if this is where you would like our questions for consideration, but I’ll put mine here. I’ve made the mental and financial commitment to writing fulltime, and I’ll admit that remaining true to that commitment for the past year has taken its toll, despite years of planning that culminated in my decision to quit my day job and pursue the writing path fulltime. One of the main issues I confront is reconciling myself to the idea that I’m spending time and energy creating a product that must be connected to an economic reality . . . somewhere, somehow. This governs my artistic approach to writing, and influences the shape of the art itself. As a result, I feel at times that my commitment to write fulltime is pointless, that I’m doing nothing different as a writer than I was as a fulltime employee of the college where I taught, and that – sadly – writing as art, is dead. How can writers cope with such nihilistic thoughts?

    1. Jan, that’s a great summary of what I’m saying. I feel, at times, like it is pointless to attempt artistic expression via novel writing because the process, like working the day job, is driven by the need to bring home a paycheck, which means I write novels that are shaped by all kinds of external and, primarily commercial, forces, such as which genre (e.g. is in demand, or which idea has/has not been written to death). These novels are not my creation, and they’re certainly not what I’d call truly, wholeheartedly honest artistic expression. I worry that I’m writing against myself and, in fact, negating the very purpose of writing.

      1. Ah, I understand. I *think* I’ve got a few questions in there that will speak directly to that issue.

        Speaking only for myself – and it’s a philosophy that might be naive and is certainly founded in the fact I don’t rely upon writing for my finances – I hope to find the confluence between what I need to write and what others think will be commercially viable.

        1. Jan, beautifully put. It’s the “confluence” you mention that I seek, and it’s the absence of the confluence that troubles me. I wonder if it’s possible that my sense of frustration is felt by all who make the transition from some other career (I was a technical writer for most of my career and then taught English at a community college) to writing fulltime. I mean, last year was my first year as a fulltime writer, and I came out of it with this overriding desire to find the confluence you mention, the place where what I write and what is commercially viable is the “sweet spot” I’ve always imagined, or just another trip around the water cooler.

          1. Gotcha. I hope the interview will give you a framework for how to make the best decision for you, because obviously what works for one writer won’t for another.

            Thanks for the conversation, Mary! It’s a deep one. 🙂

  3. Her video talk here ties in so well with the pursuit of writing! “If you can’t measure it, it can’t exist.” Writing often can’t be measured — how do you tell if something you’ve written is ‘good’ or ‘successful’ particularly if it hasn’t been published yet? How do you believe it yourself?

  4. Liz, just to clarify, are you asking how to develop an internal barometer for what is worthy of publication? How to set up “success” in your own mind, so that even if the marketplace doesn’t respond, you still feel like you’ve won? Both? Or another dynamic I’m missing entirely?

    BTW, I still LOVE that photo you’re using as your icon. The sweater color is brilliant.

    And thank you for being brave enough to ask a question!

  5. The second, I think. You are tackling a huge topic, and I’m very much looking forward to the interview.

    And thanks for the icon encouragement — it’s a big step for me!

    1. I understand about the photo anxiety. I’d still be hiding behind an avatar and screen name, probably, if it weren’t for Writer Unboxed.

      Thanks for clarifying the question. I agree that’s one of the central themes to tease out.

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