Altering Ideas Into Allure Visions: Q&A With Kara McDowell

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

 

 

Prolific writers often have to bring to life novel ideas, which entails juggling fantasy and real-world experiences. It typically takes creative talent to captivate an intended audience from the first page to the last.

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Kara McDowell:

Our top-notch writer Kara McDowell gives us a sneak peek into the complex relationship between mental illness and artistic fantasies. Kara writes on various issues using her self-made characters, portraying struggle with mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. She spent most of her childhood making up the stories that she says now with a masterly craft. Her best-selling books include One Way or Another—about a young girl who is determined to stop letting anxiety stand in the way of love and Just for Clicks—about twin sisters who are turned into social media stars when their mom’s blog goes viral. Presently Kara lives in Mesa, Arizona, where she balances her time between writing and nurturing her family. Kara is married with three children.

 

1.

How do you cope with days when you are mentally-drained, vexed, and anxious? How does it affect you being the author extraordinaire?

A1.

There are days when I feel too anxious or drained to write, especially this year. Between dealing with the pandemic and overseeing virtual learning for my kids, it’s been hard to find the time I feel inspired to write. If I’m not on deadline, I go easy on myself. I take breaks when I need it. When I am on deadline and have no choice but to write, I try to tune out the things making me anxious; I spend less time reading the news and scrolling through social media, and I sit down to write at the beginning of every day. The earlier I begin to work, the less chance my anxiety has of overtaking my brain.

2.

How do you keep your creative juices flowing when dealing with mental illness? What helps you bounce back?

A2.

When I’m feeling drained, anxious or burned out, I turn to outside sources for inspiration. I binge-read a book, watch a show on Netflix, or create a music playlist that gets me into the minds of my characters. I’ve also found it helpful to use grounding techniques when my anxiety is severe. Grounding helps me bounce back and focus on the present.

 

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3.

Do you feel there is any relationship between art (in any form) and mental health? Does being associated with art help you stay mentally healthy?

A3.

I was on deadline this summer, which means I had to write an entire book while my boys were home from school, and while the country was grappling with a deadly pandemic, natural disasters, and protests. Focusing on my art was a fantastic escape from the stresses of the outside world. The days I spent inside my invented world were some of the happiest of my entire year. The business of publishing often exacerbates my anxiety (because so much of it is outside of my control), but the actual writing process gives me something to focus on that is entirely in my control.

4.

Being a wife and an amazing mother to three lovely boys, how do you keep your personal life healthy? How do you manage to be a fantastic author while juggling with all that?

A4.

It’s hard! I don’t always have a great balance, but Nora Roberts has a lovely metaphor for balancing her family and career. She says that it’s important to remember that some of the balls you’re juggling are made of plastic and some are glass. If you drop a plastic ball, it will bounce back. If you drop a glass, it will shatter. You must know which balls are glass and prioritize those. When I’m on deadline, the glass ball is my writing. It’s okay if I drop the ball on dinner and my kids eat cereal or box macaroni and cheese for a few nights in a row. They’ll bounce back. If I’m not on deadline and my kid has an important school project to complete or soccer game we can’t miss, those are the glass balls. Maybe I drop my “writing” ball that day and don’t get any work done. That’s okay, too. I’ll bounce back the next day.

 

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5.

On a concluding note, what is one piece of advice you have for your admirers struggling with their mental health? Feel free to share tips to feel better and write better.

A5.

My only tip is that you know yourself best—if you feel like something is off with your mental health, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to speak to a professional or trusted family member or friend. Sometimes mental health issues can be helped by medication, and sometimes you may just need a change in your routine or new skills (such as grounding techniques) in your toolbox. Either way, you won’t regret seeking help to feel better!

 

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