George R.R. Martin doesn’t have a lot of good days writing The Winds of Winter

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 25: Writer George R.R. Martin of "Game of Thrones" signs autographs during the 2014 Comic-Con International Convention-Day 3 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 25, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 25: Writer George R.R. Martin of "Game of Thrones" signs autographs during the 2014 Comic-Con International Convention-Day 3 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 25, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images) /

George R.R. Martin is the author of both the A Song of Ice and Fire and Fire & Blood, books that HBO has adapted as Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon respectively. He is known for his dense worldbuilding, the humanity of his characters, and not being able to keep a deadline to save his life.

To wit: the last book in his Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance With Dragons, came out in 2011, the same year that Game of Thrones premiered on HBO. Fans have been waiting for the next book, The Winds of Winter, for 12 years and counting. Martinologists have labored for years parsing out all the reasons why the book is taking a very long time to write, but there’s nothing like getting it straight from the source.

At the end of the day, Martin just isn’t the kind of writer who can blast out pages a day, every day. He has to be feeling it. He has to be in the right mood. Everything has to be just so.

George R.R. Martin on the joy and agony of writing

Martin outlined some of his difficulties a few months back while speaking with filmmaker Kevin Smith. “There are joyful days, when it really comes alive, and the characters come alive and the scene and the words are pouring out of you. It feels good,” he said. “But there are not a lot of those days. There are also days where it’s hard.”

"And I sit down and I read what I wrote yesterday and I say, ‘This is shit. Why am I pretending I can do this? This is terrible.’ And I wind up rewriting the whole thing. And I do that for several days and I go to my wife and I say, ‘Where’s my talent? What did you do with my talent? Did you put it somewhere else? I can’t find it anymore.’ Then I have a good day."

There are writers who write multiple pages a day no matter what. Martin just isn’t one of them. “There are writers who love the simple act of writing, and there are other writers…who love having written,” he said. “It’s great when it’s done, and when it’s not done, you struggle with ever you can really do it.”

George R.R. Martin isn’t speeding up on The Winds of Winter

So Martin is generally a slow writer, if you couldn’t already tell. That said, according to him, sometimes as he reaches the end of a story, things generally speed up. Does that mean he’s picking up the pace on this final stretch of his Song of Ice and Fire series? After all, he’s already written five out of a planned seven books, and is very deep in on The Winds of Winter.

Well, it ends up that what works for a shorter story doesn’t apply to a project of this scale. “[W]hen you’re writing a novel, it doesn’t come quite as often, and when you’re writing this gigantic, seven-volume kind of thing…I really wanna get to that point where I can finish it and it’ll be done and good, that’ll feel good for at least a day, until I reread it the next day and decide it’s all s*it,” the author said.

In other words, if you were hoping that 2023 would finally be the year that Martin publishes The Winds of Winter, I wouldn’t hold your breath. We can check back in 2024.

George R.R. Martin is “always juggling like eight different projects”

Another reason Martin is taking so long to write The Winds of Winter is that he has other projects going, including involvement in several TV shows and movies. He’s not as hands-on with them as he is with Winds, of course, but they’re still there, and considering how popular his work has become, there are not a lot of them.

“I’m always juggling like eight different projects here. We’re doing more successor shows to Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon. We’re developing a Wild Cards show. Dark Winds, I’m executive producer on that, that’s on. That’s on AMC, we’re working on the second season of that now.” There’s also a movie based on on his short stories, In The Lost Lands, that just finished filming.

At least we’ll be getting more of Martin on the screen, now that so many professionals are involved in adapting his work. And Martin to see so much of his stuff on TV, and to see so many popular TV shows in general. “They unite us a a culture,” he said. “We talk about them in the same way as previous generations talked about the latest novel from Hemingway or the latest serial from Charles Dickens in Victorian England. That’s the center of our culture.”

That puts Martin in the center as well. No pressure.

Next. Top 13 couples on House of the Dragon, from most screwed up to least. dark

To stay up to date on everything fantasy, science fiction, and WiC, follow our all-encompassing Facebook page and sign up for our exclusive newsletter.

Get HBO, Starz, Showtime and MORE for FREE with a no-risk, 7-day free trial of Amazon Channels