Being productive in a busy world

I’m often asked how I manage to find time to write when I have three kids. So because it is definitely not a question I’m tired of answering and I’m definitely not procrastinating from the structural edit I should be doing, here are some of my tips for fitting writing – or any creative pursuit – into a busy life, whether you have kids or not.

Don’t assume a big block of time is the answer


It’s tempting to think that if you just had the chance to sit down at a computer for eight hours, you’d do all the writing and all your problems would be solved.

Firstly, it’s super hard to find this kind of time. Most people can’t afford to devote regular, whole days to unpaid creative work. Every once in a while, sure, but we all have commitments, whether it’s work, kids, family, partners, social lives, other hobbies, etc.

Secondly, and I’m sure this isn’t just me, but the more time I have the more reasons I find to procrastinate.

I’ll just check Facebook!

I’ll just make a witty comment on Twitter about how I’m supposed to be writing but am looking at Twitter instead!

I’ll get back to it in a minute, but first I have to engage in a conversation with three different authors on Twitter who are all doing the same thing!

Another cup of coffee! Better tidy up the kitchen! I’ve got so much time, I’ll just watch a bit of Netflix! Haven’t written a blog post for a while!

You get the idea. Sometimes I manage to be productive in these rare chunks of time, but more often my mind wanders to other stuff I should be doing. It’s hard to stay focused for such a long period.

Slide writing into the nooks and crannies of life

Following from the above, I find I’m way more likely to be productive if I only have a certain amount of time. It might be ten minutes while I’m eating my breakfast, or half an hour while one kid is at school, one watching a movie and the other asleep. Steal these moments when you can – when they’re few and far between, you’re not going to waste them on social media or house cleaning.

Set goals

In the past I’ve set words-per-day goals when I’ve been writing first drafts, and it’s been super effective. Better yet when you can team up with another writer friend and keep each other accountable. It’s a good way to keep the momentum going and stay on track, with the added benefit that you’re more likely to find extra time in your day so you can meet your goal.

Look for dead time that you can turn into writing time


For years, I’ve periodically set my alarm for 5am to enforce a couple of hours of writing time. I don’t waste time on the internet, because if I’m up that early I’m damn well going to make it count. But I know a lot of people don’t want to hear that as a solution, so think about other chunks of time where you’re not doing anything else and look at them as opportunities to fit more writing in.

I work a seven day fortnight, so on my three days off with the kids I get up at 5 (sometimes earlier if I’m stuck with insomnia – I’d rather be productive than lying in bed calculating my number of hours of sleep if I fell asleep right that moment).

On work days I take my laptop with me and I write on the bus and in my lunch break. It’s a 30-40 minute bus ride, so that works out to around two hours of writing per day. And because I’m doing it in short bursts, I’m way more productive. Plus, I’m usually on a roll when I have to stop, so I’m always keen to jump back in next time.

As I also write for my job, sometimes it’s a bit much to be working with words all day. But more often I find the creative writing a welcome break from gov speak, and vice versa – the soothing nature of editing (or is that just me?) can be a relief from the pressure of creating a believable plot and characters.

Use non-writing time for planning

There are times when I’m stuck in a place where writing isn’t an option – driving to work, at a playground with the kids, going for a run, middle-of-the-night insomnia – and I use this time to percolate on plot holes or come up with story twists. Because I’m not sitting at my laptop and feeling the pressure to write, my mind is open to my characters’ voices (surely I’m not the only one whose characters talk to them, right?) and I have the emotional space to look at the story as a whole rather than the words on the page.

I’ve come up with more ideas, solutions and realisations of themes and deeper meaning using this method than any of the time I’ve spent wrestling with paragraphs in a manuscript.

Do something else

When the words aren’t coming and your brain feels locked, do something different. Write a blog post, write poetry (disclaimer: I never write poetry), write by hand (I don’t do this either), read a book you love, anything that might kickstart your brain.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

You’re not always going to be productive. You’re not always going to be inspired. Some days it’s like wading through quicksand and you wonder why you ever decided to embark on this writing caper because obviously you’re hopeless at it. Some days you’ll do no more than stare at the screen and wallow in self-loathing. Take a day off. Take a week off. Bitch to your writer friends about how hard it is. Then go back to the computer and try, try again.

So that’s my advice, for what it’s worth. It won’t work for everyone, but it works for me. Since I’ve started writing to and from work and in my lunch breaks, my productivity has exploded. I find I’m spending more time thinking about my stories and I’m almost always eager to get stuck into it every time I open the laptop.

Now, back to that structural edit…


Hot Pursuit has a cover!

It’s been an eventful month in the book stakes as the publication date for Hot Pursuit inches closer.

In big news, I was finally able to announce that the book will be published in Germany in late 2018/early 2019 by Heyne Verlag, which is part of Random House. This is really exciting for a debut novel to be published overseas, and I can’t wait to see Hot Pursuit in German!

I’ve also just completed book two in my series and sent it off to my editor, so crossing fingers that it’ll be well-received and I might be able to make another announcement in coming months!

Yesterday I had the very exciting job of unveiling the awesome cover design for Hot Pursuit. It’s an amazing feeling to see the story I’ve had in my head for close to 10 years looking like a real life book – I can only imagine how awesome it’s going to be to see the real thing… and even better still to see it on the shelves in bookshops next May! It’s such a great-looking cover too that I can’t stop looking at it!

Now it’s out there things are moving along… I’ve got an author page on the Pantera Press website and you can read the blurb for Hot Pursuit and even pre-order it now if you’re feeling really keen!

As exciting as it is to show off and start to promote my book, I’m always most comfortable when I’m in my own head and writing, so now book two is out of my hands (for now), I’m back to redrafting a stand-alone novel and thinking about plot lines for book three.

So here it is – the cover for Hot Pursuit!

Instagram_Cover Reveal_Hot Pursuit_Freeborn

Letting go


Today I turned 40 and I relinquished control of my first book. The two are related, I promise.

A few years ago, I was struggling to find the motivation to keep going with the writing thing. For the first time in a long time, I’d begun to believe I’d never be published. The rejections kept coming in a slow but steady stream and I stopped believing in what I was doing. It all seemed like a lot of work for no reward.

I’m not sure what it was that made me do it, but around that time I set myself a goal to be published before I turned 40. I have no idea what I would’ve done if I didn’t achieve that goal (probably kept writing anyway, because I have to), but luckily I never had to find out, because I got a publishing deal a year ago and my first book comes out next year.

So, back to turning 40. I’ve actually been quite excited about the prospect of turning 40 – for me, it’s not about getting old, but about claiming who I am and not caring so much about what other people think of me (though you’d better believe I will be devouring every one of my Goodreads reviews and weeping into my beer glass over the negative ones).

Anyway. I am going somewhere with this. This week I’ve been doing the final FINAL read-through of my book before it goes to print. I hadn’t expected to make many (or even any) edits, but I was surprised to find myself still changing words, deleting words, adding words. There’s a saying that a book is never finished until the author is so sick of it they want to throw the computer across the room, or it gets made into an actual book. I could have kept tinkering away at this forever, but luckily it is going to be made into an actual book, so I have no choice but to stop.

And it was only today, on my 40th birthday, as I got to the end of my read-through, that I realised: THIS IS IT. I will never again change anything in this book. It’s not mine anymore. Well, it is, but it also belongs to everyone who reads it. I can’t control the story, and that is equal parts exhilarating and terrifying.

So the creating part of the book is done with and now I wait until the day it goes out into the world. In the meantime, I’m working on the final draft of book 2, and then the whole process starts again. But tonight I’m going to enjoy the feeling of letting go in the knowledge that the book is finished.


My first ‘book’

I’ve just finished the copyedit on my book and it’s now been sent off to be typeset. While publication day is still a way off yet, now that I’ve written the dedication and acknowledgements, and most of the remaining process is out of my hands, everything is starting to feel a lot more real.

I’ve still got plenty to keep me busy, as I’m redrafting the next book in the series and planning a redraft of another standalone novel, but my brain is still trying to terrify me with all the scary things I’ll have to do once the book’s out there in the world, like promotion and, you know, actually talking to people about it.

But while looking through my bookcase today I came across the perfect distraction: my first ‘book’, written almost exactly 30 years ago just before I turned 10.


Just look at that front cover.



Complete with melodramatic dedication at the front, and I even gave my little sister co-author status, though I only actually let her draw the pictures on the front cover and the inside front cover.



Much of the content was plagiarised from the Silver Brumby series, with excessive exclamation marks, female jealousy and some horse sex references added in for good measure.



I spent way more time on the illustrations than I did on the plot.



There’s nothing like an abrupt ending. But at least they lived happily ever after (though it looks like I wanted to avoid cliches even back then).

On winter

I’ve always hated winter.

When we first moved to the Adelaide Hills, I expected to be miserable for the three months of the year (well, let’s face it, five months up here) that it was cold and rainy. And last year it was more like seven months with all the storms and higher than usual rainfall.

But something has changed this year. Winter is never going to be my favourite time of the year compared to the balmy evenings of summer, the wild flowers of spring, and the mild, colourful days of autumn. But there’s something about the mid-afternoon winter sun that washes the trees with soft light that calms my soul.

Getting settled in our new house hasn’t been without its share of problems and stress, but we’re lucky to have this amazing view from our back deck.


I always seem to have 670 programs open in my brain at once, but when I come out here and the air is still and the sunlight turns every leaf golden, and the kookaburras are cackling in the treetops, my mind goes quiet. I can just exist, without worrying about every little thing I have to do, or the things I haven’t done yet, or how the hell I’m going to pull off the edit I know I need to do on my next book.

I’m never going to love winter. And no doubt I’ll be thinking differently once it starts raining and I’m stuck inside with ratty kids for hours of the week, or dashing from the car into school in the pouring rain with two kids in tow and one on my hip.

But for this first month of winter, I’m going to enjoy the cut glass cold on my back while the fragile sun warms my face for that one golden, quiet hour a day.

Editing, Writers’ Week and Buffy

It’s been a busy few months for me as I’ve been working on the structural edit of my novel, Hot Pursuit. As with all my writing/editing projects, I went through my usual steps:

  1. Excitement to be at the next stage
  2. Pleasant surprise that the feedback isn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.
  3. Procrastination.
  4. Denial.
  5. Paralysis.
  6. Panic.
  7. I’m never going to be able to do this.
  8. Start with the easy bits.
  9. Everything falls into place.
  10. Pleasant surprise that I seem to have pulled it off.

I’ve sent it back to the editor and am hoping I actually did pull it off… In the meantime, I’m now feeling a bit empty without anything to work on. I became so immersed in the world of the story that I’m almost mourning the loss of my characters and find myself imagining them in various different situations. Luckily for me, I have at least another two books in the series to keep directing their lives, and the first draft of the second book is already sitting on my laptop, waiting for me to jump in.

IMG_5885I was also lucky enough to time my final week of maternity leave before returning to work with Adelaide Writers’ Week, my favourite time of the year. I didn’t get to as many sessions as I would’ve liked, but the weather was perfect and the atmosphere as magical as ever. I saw Sara Taylor, followed by a packed session with US feminist Lindy West, the highlight for me. I saw a few bits and pieces of other sessions, but mostly I just sat under the trees with my laptop and enjoyed the atmosphere.

i6guaja7bivibhmegqdnOn other matters, any die-hard Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan would be aware that last week marked the 20 year anniversary of the show airing on TV. I didn’t come to Buffy until around Season 5, I think, after which I immediately went back to the beginning and watched the whole lot (I don’t even know how many times I’ve watched the entire series since then).

I didn’t know it at the time, but Buffy began to awaken the feminist in me. It wasn’t because she was a kick-arse superhero, or that she was physically stronger than men – it was because slaying vampires and demons was the easy part of her life. It was the normal, everyday stuff that she struggled with. Paying bills, raising her sister, making poor choices in her love life, being there for her friends, knowing what to do with her life. She was a flawed human, but she was a whole human. She didn’t fit into the usual female roles of princess or supporting act to a man’s personal journey. And while it is often thought of as being too dark, Season 6 was my absolute favourite for continually knocking her down and letting her pull herself back up and become stronger.

Buffy was one of the first shows to star a tough woman who was also unashamedly feminine…not in the sense that she was beautiful, but that she liked girly things…she was never trying to be a man. While it paved the way for many shows focusing on women, I think it is still unparalleled in terms of character writing. Yes, Breaking Bad was a brilliant series, but there were next to no women characters, and they were only there because of what they meant to men. And it’s indefensible in the 21st century that 51% of the population takes up so little space on the screen (and in fiction, and parliament, and corporate leadership…).

Even 20 years later, while the fashion may be starting to look a little dated, the issues Buffy dealt with remain relevant…same-sex relationships, addiction, violence against women. It also managed to weave sharp, witty humour into some really dark themes, which is so hard to do well.

And for the record, it’s Buffy and Spike all the way for me…

I think it might be time to watch the series again.

I’m going to be an author!

This blog has been sadly dormant for way too long, partly because:

  1. I have three young kids who take up a lot of my time
  2. not much has been happening with my writing because:
    1. (see point 1)
    2. I’ve been concentrating on submitting my most recently completed manuscript, and I don’t want to go into the blow by blow of how many agents and publishers have rejected it.


I finally have some blogworthy news to share, and this time it’s pretty exciting. I’ve been offered (and have accepted) a publishing contract! As with everything publishing-related that seems to happen to me, it was for a manuscript that I’d long ago consigned to the virtual bottom drawer as unmarketable.

It began in September 2015 when I’d been submitting my manuscript Misconception in the hope of securing a new agent. I was receiving rapid rejections for various reasons and, as my list of potential Australian agents dwindled, my spirits were sinking lower and lower when I saw a tweet from boutique publisher Pantera Press that they were seeking comedic chick lit manuscripts. My abandoned mystery series fit the bill, so to give myself a bit of a boost I submitted the first in the series, Hot Pursuit.

I didn’t hear anything for ages and my attention was consumed with finishing up work, starting my eldest son at kindy, moving house, having a baby, and various other unplanned stressful events, and I completely forgot about it. Fast forward to August this year and I got an email from Pantera that they were interested in my manuscript if I could make a few revisions to it.

Still not expecting much but with nothing to lose, I edited the manuscript and sent it back, and a couple of weeks later I was amazed to receive an offer to publish not only Hot Pursuit, but the whole series! After I’d got over my excitement, I sought advice on the contract and, with the nitty gritty out of the way, I was ready to accept.

Last week I was lucky enough to be whisked over to Sydney for a whirlwind visit to meet the whole Pantera team and sign the contract, with obligatory glass (or two) of bubbly of course! It was amazing to meet everyone and of course to hear so many lovely comments about my book!

A week later my head is still swimming with details, but I have plenty of time to absorb everything, as Hot Pursuit will likely be published in January 2018. Next up will be the structural edit of the manuscript, but until then I am continuing to celebrate the amazing news that after all these years of perseverance, I’m actually going to be an author!

Here’s me with Ali Green, CEO of Pantera Press, and Marty, Sales and Marketing Director.


This news was great timing for me, as I’d set a goal to have a publishing contract before I turned 40, which I’ve achieved with one year to spare!

I’m hoping to keep this blog way more up to date now as Hot Pursuit continues on its journey to publication. More to come soon!

Kirsten Krauth

Novelist, Blogger, Wild Colonial Girl


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