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How Greta Gerwig Overcomes That Negative Voice We All Hear While Writing

Nearly all writers encounter that pesky inner voice urging them to quit, but how can you conquer it?

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Nearly all writers encounter that pesky inner voice urging them to quit, but how can you conquer it?


Greta Gerwig, known for her transformative role as a writer and director in the world of cinema, has left an indelible mark on the industry. From her early indie New York films to her fruitful collaborations with her creative and life partner, Noah Bachman, to her Oscar-nominated works and blockbuster successes, Gerwig stands as an unwavering force.

Nonetheless, Gerwig, like many writers, shares certain common struggles. In a conversation with Jesse Armstrong, the creator of “Succession,” at the British Film Institute’s (BFI) London Film Festival, Gerwig delved into her writing process and how she confronts her anxieties and fears when crafting a screenplay.

She candidly revealed, “Writing is the thing I derive the most satisfaction from having accomplished, but it can be agonizing while in the process. Writing, in a profound sense, is painful to me. You’re alone, and it’s hushed. Every self-doubt and inner critic surfaces loudly, insisting ‘you’re not very good.'”

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For Gerwig, these persistent self-doubts and anxieties are an inevitable part of the creative journey. However, she has developed a strategy to contend with them. Gerwig copes with her inner turmoil by gradually immersing herself in her writing responsibilities, gathering ideas and moments that she subsequently weaves into her screenplays.

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Many accomplished writers adhere to the notion that “everything in your life is material” (as expressed by the renowned Nora Ephron), and indeed it is. Take fragments from your life that hold emotional significance, safeguard them for future reference, and recognize that inspiration is omnipresent in our world. Allow your imagination to embellish a small, resonant moment into a story that naturally unfolds.

Up to this point, Gerwig boasts a writing portfolio encompassing twelve feature films, even undertaking the task of scripting a Disney Snow White reboot. Notably, her screenplay for “Little Women” earned a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination at the 92nd Academy Awards. Amidst her expanding body of work, there remains a common thread.

In each of Gerwig’s narratives, there exists an inherent human quality that never fails to evoke deep emotions. She fearlessly delves into the depths of her imperfect and self-absorbed characters, examining their flaws and vulnerabilities. Admittedly, this facet may not fully manifest in the initial draft of her screenplays, but it evolves over time as she begins to infuse her own experiences and insight to infuse humanity into her characters.

Towards the conclusion of her conversation at BFI Southbank, Gerwig revealed that she is presently “in the writing process” for her upcoming feature, acknowledging that the thought of writing is causing her “recurring nightmares.” While she didn’t disclose specific details about the project, it’s safe to assume that it will be a remarkable endeavor.

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