Jason Schwartzman succumbs to Second Novel Syndrome in “Bored to Death.”

It is not a novel plot for a novelist protagonist to have Second Novel Syndrome

In the HBO series Bored to Deathwe have another blocked writer protagonist getting into trouble, week after week. Jason Schwartzman, like David Duchovney in Californicationplays a blocked writer who overdoes it on the drugs and alcohol, has been dumped by the girl he loves, and whose life is generally spiraling out of control.
Schwartzman’s character is supposedly writing a follow up book after successfully publishing his first novel, but in Season One he writes precious little. It’s that damn Second Novel Syndrome! (I wrote a previous post on this problem concerning Ralph Ellison’s career).
Most blocked writers fill unproductive time with diversions like TV, solitaire and peanut butter sandwiches, but Schwartzman avoids his work by diverting his energies into a lame, amateur private detective practice that he advertises on Craig’s List. He manufactures a heroic life that he is fantastically ill-prepared for, as an antidote to the reality of his languishing fortunes on all fronts. Kind of tragic, but pretty funny too.
I have not yet seen this private dick procrastination strategy in my work consulting with writers, but I have seen the writing wheels grind to a halt for several authors who experienced early success in their career. Somehow the writing becomes more complicated with additional expectations now in the mix , and the challenge of living up to a reputation that did not exist for the first book.
Despite the good acting and blocked writer themes, I eventually got bored watching Bored to Death, and probably won’t put Season Two in my Netflix queue. From what I understand, Schwartzman’s second novel gets finished and rejected. I wish him a happy and productive Season Three, though a cured writing block would probably mean the series is being cancelled. 
No block, no story.

About David Rasch

Author, psychologist, speaker, teacher, consultant, workshop leader
This entry was posted in Common Writing Block Problems, Famous writers, Tips for overcoming writer's block and procrastination and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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