Justine McLeary from McLeary Media
I discovered a startling fact at a writing forum in Auckland yesterday: in 2016, the average Kiwi author earned just $13,000 a year. Seems there is some truth to the poor struggling writer stereotype.
I use the word writer because it’s not just authors who struggle to earn a living. Content developers, poets, script writers, biographers… they’re all in it because they love creating, not because it’s going to make them a fortune.
I’m no different.
I was a trainee journalist when a Hamilton newspaper published my very first article in 1997. The thrill of seeing my name in print was incredible. Since then I’ve had more than 1000 articles, stories and pieces of web content published, but the thrill remains. There’s nothing like it and that’s what gets me up in the mornings.
After more than 20 years in this business I know a thing or two, but there’s always room for improvement; there are writing tricks I’ve yet to learn and industry trends to keep up with. The desire to be the best writer I can be is what took me to the aforementioned writing forum. Sitting in a lecture theatre at Auckland University at 8.30 on a Friday night, I wondered why I’d chosen to be there rather than celebrating the end of a busy week with friends. I looked at the people around me who live and breathe writing and I realised I was there because so do I. I love nothing more than sitting down with a pen and a blank notebook to create magic.
One of the great things about writing is its versatility. A good writer can adapt his or her skills to a range of mediums, styles and career fields. That versatility has served me well over the years as I’ve switched from journalism to communications and back again when the occasion has arisen. I’ve worked predominantly in communications since 2006; many of my roles were dream jobs that came with unforgettable experiences including hand-feeding lions, skydiving and modelling. My writing ability played a huge part in me getting all those roles.
That same ability means I can help people share their stories in engaging and refreshing ways. I love that. Supporting local businesses and helping them say the right things to the right people at the right time is hugely satisfying. It’s a privilege and I’m grateful every day that I get to do it.
Justine McLeary owns McLeary Media and works out of Lightning Hub, a high performance shared space and innovation business hub in Whakatane, New Zealand. Some of her content writing can be found here.