Skip to main content

My Favorite Baker's Dozen of Balls of Steel™

Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares her favorite Balls of Steel articles where she gives screenwriting advice and admits the mistakes she's made along the way.

In the three years I have been writing Balls of Steel, I have shared my thoughts, my successes, and my gut instincts on the crazy ride that is my writing career. I get to talk about screenwriting, explore my sometimes insane experiences, and above all, admit the gigantic mistakes I have made along the way... with you, my fellow writer.

photo credit

photo credit

What a great job. Seriously. I love riding this ride with all of you.

Many of you have asked me what my favorite articles are, so I decided to give you a baker's dozen of treats to start the new year. I admit, I had a hard time choosing, but at least today, these are my top picks.

As you read through them, I hope you learn something, are inspired in some way, and at the very least, feel less alone on your path to becoming a professional screenwriter. If you trip up, no worries. I've probably made the same mistakes too. The good news is, that's how we learn.

So, here are my favorite 13 Balls of Steels, in no particular order.

Pursuit of the Project: I was originally brought on to write my column to share the journey of our narrative adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Slavery by Another Name. This is the original Balls of Steel that launched this column. Learn how I got the gig that quite literally changed my life.

Give to Receive: I believe in karma. I believe in paying it forward. I believe being selfless will get your farther than being selfish. Give to Receive gives my advice on how and why to pay it forward in life to help you reach your career goals.

Lessons of a Reader: As a screenwriter, we have to get past a myriad of gatekeepers to get even the smallest shot of production. The script reader holds your script's fate in their hands. I had the honor of being a reader for a contest, and in doing so, learned a lot about what the do's and don'ts are of getting past a reader.

Dear New Screenwriter: This one might actually be my favorite of all. I wrote a letter to my younger self with the advice I wish a seasoned writer had given me when I first started screenwriting. You want to hear my mistakes? This is the one to read. I rip that bandage right off and hand you the salt shaker.

More Than One Path to a Writing CareerI've watched many people succeed and many people crash and burn. But one thing every one of them had in common was a different way of pursuing a career. If you're questioning how to break in, or if it's worth it, give this a read and open your eyes to new ideas to go after your dreams.

American Pickers Road to TV with Show Creator Mike Wolfe: My mother is a bit of an antique pack rat. When my sister found out American Pickers was coming to our town, she moved mountains and got my mom on the show. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mike and picking his brain on how he got the show on air. This series of articles is absolutely a case study in developing a TV show from idea to air. A must read for anyone trying to break into television!

  • Part 1: How the idea of American Pickers began and the long road to finding the show a home.
  • Part 2: The behind-the-scenes development of the show.
  • Part 3: How Mike is handling success and what projects he's working on now.

10 Tips to Prepare for When Opportunity Knocks: We all want to be produced, but the journey we take to production is just as valuable, if not more, as a barometer to predict our chances of success. I’ve always put my journey out as a case study for my readers, so I picked apart how I tried to prepare myself for opportunities that popped up along the way.

Balls of Steel Goes Into the Writing Room and Behind the Lines with DR: This one is a must read for those wanting serious writing tips. I spent almost a week in Doug Richardson's (writer of DIE HARD 2, BAD BOYS, HOSTAGE) writing room ripping about Slavery by Another Name for a major rewrite. Yes, my butt sat on the very couch that Bruce Willis' butt cheeks sat on. Doug was incredibly generous, giving me a one-on-one mini course in rewriting. I compiled his most important tips and shared them with you, my gang of knowledge-thirsty writers.

The Secret to Finding a Screenwriting Mentor: So how did I get someone like Doug Richardson to help me? I share how I inadvertently got my two top screenwriting mentors to not only give me feedback, but to have my back.

The ‘Magic Trick’ to Selling Your Screenplay: People constantly email, Facebook or tweet me to ask, "How do I sell my screenplay?" This is not a simple question to answer, so I wrote up a detailed post with advice on what it takes to sell a script. It is now the link I email anyone who asks me that question. So, save yourself some time emailing me and just read it now.

Hope vs. Faith: OK, I changed my mind, this one is my favorite. If you are having any doubts at all about being a writer, stop EVERYTHING and read this. Please. Pretty please with sugar on top, even. Being a screenwriter requires a lot of hope, but it also requires you to have extreme faith in yourself - two things Hollywood rejections beat out of you mercilessly. I try to help you understand why it's important not to lose faith in yourself, and in my usual form, I get personal.

Above anything else you get out of my columns, I want you to understand one thing: YOU are the only one who can determine if you succeed or fail. Not Hollywood. Not an agent. Not a producer. YOU! Do you know why the majority of writers fail? They quit. So, as long as you stay in the game, you still have a fighting chance. That is what I hope you've learned from my columns the past three years.

That, and one other thing...

I believe in you.

Sometimes all it takes is one person to believe. If I can succeed, you can too. And if you can succeed, I can too. See how that works? (Bonus: Here's a video where I talk about what success is to me.)

We're in this together.

How about in 2014 you join me in my commitment to write every single day, even if it's only for 15 minutes. We can do that. Right? *insert an enthusiastic 'yes' here*

Now let's kick 2014's ass! Happy New Year!

Watch ScriptMag Editor Share Her Advice on Facing Your Writing Fears

Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares her personal story of facing her fears in order to propel her writing and her career. Click on the image below to watch Jeanne's advice. In just eight minutes, you might have a whole new perspective.