Anna understands that success as a screenwriter is not a zero-sum game. It’s not you versus me. That negative mentality is a flaw I all too often see in writers. They feel the desire to shut down their peers in order to feel superior. Not Anna. She has a spark about her. A glow. Which makes her incredibly unique. She knows the struggles we all have to face in order to succeed in this business and she still finds time to selflessly support the screenwriting community around her. I truly appreciate her beautiful spirit and I hope you to come see it as well. She is a driven and passionate writer on the rise and it my pleasure to introduce you to her.
This is Anna Bielkheden…
I’ve been fascinated with the power of words for as long as I can remember.
As a child, I would come home from preschool with some new word or expression, and then experiment creative ways to use it. I was also incredibly stubborn and had to do things my way, so I’d often write stories and make up my own words for specific things.
Like for example, I’d name an isolated, small lake with a beach in the woods something that didn’t actually exist and claim it as a brand-new concept. I figured that’s how language was created in the first place, so shouldn’t I be able to come up with words too?
Now that I think of it, I can see how this desire to constantly create new things has pervaded everything in my life. While I’ve always been a writer in one form or another, I’ve also worn a billion other hats throughout the years. Among other things, I spent two years in drama school, worked as a TV and photography makeup artist, started five businesses, ran a fitness studio, and developed my own award-winning cosmetics line.
I’ve always looked at my restless curiosity as a bit of a weakness, but in hindsight, I think it contributed to me becoming a more versatile writer.
In fact, my other experiences are what led to where I am today.
I started off my professional writing career as a health and beauty columnist, which in turn led to my first job as an agency copywriter. Eventually, I landed with the marketing agency NMI Interactive, where now I work full-time as a copy and ghostwriter for some of the biggest names in the fitness, beauty and health industry.
Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?
Writing and telling stories has always been a prominent part of who I am, so in that I feel like I’ve always been on this journey. Having said that, there was indeed a specific event that sparked my first screenplay. To make a long and kind of bizarre story short, my first boyfriend cheated on me with a girl who in the same time frame became a movie star. As a result, I plunged into an identity crisis and wrote a 3-hour long screenplay. Go figure. Basically, I was a heartbroken teenager and needed a creative medium to explore and communicate my point of view.
Submit to the Script Summit
Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?
Many people and events have inspired me along the way, hence it’s hard to pinpoint a single catalyst or source of inspiration. My parents, friends and teachers always encouraged me to write, but for whatever reason, I didn’t truly accept it as my life “calling” until I was in my 30s. I think I’ve tried just about everything before pursuing this line of work! When I finally did, I figured the most logical way to make a living as a writer was becoming a copywriter, so that’s what I did. Eventually, my creative veins popped through and I started penning my own stuff on the side.
Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?
In terms of screenwriting, I’d have to say it was an old friend of mine, Josef Fares. We met in ‘98 or ‘99 when he helped shoot a proof of concept for my first screenplay. Back then he was an unknown film student, but a year later he became a true overnight success with his first movie. Years after, when we talked about my script, he said I had a talent for screenwriting and encouraged me to keep writing. Although we lost touch over time, I never forgot those words. It only took me almost 20 years to take his advice, but here I am!
Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?
It became crystal clear when my drama pilot “Walk of Shame” was nominated for Best Voice at Script Summit. Up until then, I don’t think I had fully realized or admitted to myself how much writing and sharing my own stories truly meant to me. As a ghost and copywriter, I’m always behind the scenes, so it was both an epiphany and amazing feeling to be recognized and “heard” out in the open.
Q: How do you define success for yourself?
Success to me means doing what I love, while getting paid enough to live from it. I suppose there are several tiers of success, but I think the basic definition of it is waking up excited and free to create. In my view, being forced to do something you hate just to pay the bills is paradoxical to the very point of living.
Q: Give us a typical day in your life.
My day starts with making sure my 13-year old son is packed and ready for school, after which I typically drink buckets of coffee and write like a hurricane until about 2-3 pm.
At that point, I’ll eat some kind of pre-workout snack and hit the gym to jump rope and lift weights for 1-2 hours. My son then returns from school and immediately informs me he’s hungry, which he repeats once an hour until bedtime. Somewhere between there and midnight, it’s Netflix and chill.
Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
Sadly, I’m both. I suffer from hardcore insomnia, which often wakes me up around 3 am. If I don’t fall back asleep within 30 minutes, there’s just no point in going back to bed. I often stay awake in bed until what I consider an acceptable time to make coffee, kind of like other people’s 5 pm mark for drinks. “Well, it’s 4:15 am somewhere!”
Do you have a morning routine or ritual?
Mornings are sacred to me. To be honest, I hate eating breakfast with other people! I don’t care if you’re a super star back from the dead, stay away from my morning zone or else.
I try to get up at least 30 minutes early to enjoy my breakfast alone, often while browsing real estate ads. It’s a peculiar habit I’ve had forever--I guess I like to start off the daydreaming a bit!
What’s for lunch?
I’m a bit of a freak and track all my nutrients daily, but I kind of wing it along the way until I hit my macros and micros. However, I do have lots of basic go-to meals that keep me on track, like cabbage and turkey or greek yogurt with berries and raw oats. Fun, I know.
What do you do at night? Watch binge-worthy TV-shows of course, what else...?
Do you have a pre-bed ritual?
Confiscating all my son’s electronics so he doesn’t stay up all night watching YouTube.
How do you define a successful day?
Hit my nutrient goals, killed it in the gym, beat a copy deadline, and STILL managed to squeeze in an hour of screenwriting.
Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?
Tell more with less words. It’s a work in progress, but I think it’s a good rule of thumb.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?
Ignore my rampant self-criticism and just write.
Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?
The insights and stories I’ve gathered from my hardships.
Q: What do you want to learn from a community of your peers?
Everything. I think we can all learn from each other; especially when we have completely different beliefs, experiences, strengths and weaknesses.