Greta Gerwig has become a writer/director who has shaped a new era of cinema. From her indie New York films to her collaborations with her creative and life partner, Noah Bachman, to Oscar-nominated films and blockbusters galore, Gerwig is a powerhouse that seemingly cannot be shaken.
However, Gerwig is just like all of us writers in a few ways.
During a conversation with Succession creator Jesse Armstrong at the British Film Institute's (BFI) London Film Festival, Deadline reports that Gerwig talked about her writing process and how she navigates her anxieties and fears when writing a screenplay.
“Writing is the thing I most enjoy having done but feels painful when I’m doing it. Writing is painful to me in a deep way,” Gerwig said of her process. “You’re by yourself and it’s quiet. Every voice you’ve ever had in your head that says ‘you’re not very good’ is loud.”
For Gerwig, these thoughts and angst that creep up on her are something unavoidable, but she has developed a method for working through it. Gerwig works through her angst by "creeping up" on her writing duties by collecting ideas and moments that she goes on to use in her screenplays.
'20th Century Women'Credit: A24
Many great writers live by the idea that everything in your life is copy (in the words of the great Norah Ephron) and it is. Take bits and pieces from your life that have any sort of emotional impact on you, and keep them somewhere safe that you know you'll return to. Inspiration is everywhere in this world. Let your imagination build on a small moment that strikes you in a story where it makes sense.
To date, Gerwig has written credits on twelve features and has scripted a Snow White reboot for Disney. Gerwig's screenplay for Little Woman was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the 92nd Academy Awards. With each writing credit, Gerwig's worlds get larger, but the stories have one element that connects them all together.
There is something profoundly human in each of Gerwig's stories that always brings me to tears. There is depth and humanity to her deeply flawed and selfish characters that she is not afraid to sit with and explore. Sure, there is a great chance that this aspect doesn't exist in the first draft of her screenplays, but it evolves and she begins to put herself on the page and finds a way to build the humanity in the characters.
At the tail end of the conversation, Gerwig told the audience in the BFI Southbank that she is currently “in the writing process” on her next feature, and the thought of writing is giving her “recurring nightmares.” Gerwig didn’t share any details about the project, but we can assume that it will be something wonderful.
What is your favorite project that Gerwig has written? Let us know in the comments!