How long has George R.R. Martin been working on The Winds of Winter?

It seems like we've been waiting for The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin forever. Just how long has it actually been, and why is there such a delay?
2023 Atlanta Film Festival - Image Film Awards Gala
2023 Atlanta Film Festival - Image Film Awards Gala / Paras Griffin/GettyImages

It’s no secret that fans have waited a long time for The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. We’re all waiting for an update where he says that he’s finished with the novel. Let’s take a look at just what this delay is all about.

The first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones, came out in 1996. The next couple of books came pretty quickly after that. In fact, there was a two year wait for the next two books, and then a five-year wait for the fourth book in the series. We had to wait six years for A Dance of Dragons, the fifth book in the series and the most recent published.

Martin has been working on The Winds of Winter since just before that fifth book was published. He shared that he started writing it in July 2010. It's now 14 years later and there is still no book. And there are no signs that we will get a book any time soon.

George R.R. Martin keeps fans updated about The Winds of Winter

In Martin's defense, he does know that he’s way behind with the book. Martin has kept fans updated on his blog about his progress, and has made it clear in the past that he is not as far into it as he would like. His last meaty update on The Winds of Winter was in July of 2022.

Martin has worked on other books during this time. While waiting for The Winds of Winter, he's released Fire & Blood, which is a prequel book about the Targaryen dynasty. This book has been used as the inspiration for the new Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon.

Some of Martin's previous blog posts about the sixth A Song of Ice and Fire book have focused on how he has struggled with some of the storylines. There are a lot of characters and a lot of interconnectivity, and he needs to get all of that right.

However, in October 2022, Martin told Stephen Colbert that he was about three quarters of the way done with the book, according to Town & Country. In fact, he'd finished writing some of the characters completely.

How long will we need to wait for The Winds of Winter?

So what is the timeline looking like? Martin hasn’t given any updates on the novel as of late. He was respectfully posting about the WGA strike during last summer. He was even on the picket lines at times.

Martin has often said that he writes when he’s home. The pandemic was a great time for him to sit and write, but since then he has been traveling more. He promoted the show Dark Winds on AMC and he talks a lot about Wild Cards, another book series.

That may leave less time to work on or talk about The Winds of Winter, although he has repeatedly said that writing that book in his first priority. If it took him 12 years to get three-quarters of the way through The Winds of Winter, then we’re looking at another four years of writing from that point, which takes us to 2026. Then there is the editing process of a book that is likely to be around 1,500 pages long by his last prediction.

One thing we do know is that A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t going to play out in the way that Game of Thrones did. He didn’t have a hand in the finale, so we’re ready to see how his story actually ends. Now if we could get that sixth book, it would be great!

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