George R.R. Martin Admits Winds of Winter Is Still a Drafting Disaster

George R.R. Martin Admits Winds of Winter Is Still a Drafting Disaster
Image credit: HBO

Well, it looks like we'll have to wait another 12 years.


  • George R.R. Martin is known for his incredibly well-crafted world-building, characters, and storylines — but the price of this approach is an incredibly stretched workflow.
  • As a result, The Winds of Winter hasn't been published in 12 years.
  • Although Martin said last year that the book was three-quarters finished, a year later that number doesn't seem to have changed.

George R.R. Martin is known not only as one of the most celebrated fantasy authors of our time, but also as someone whose creative approach takes an unusually extended period of time. While the similarly renowned Brandon Sanderson, among others, develops an outline for his books in advance and writes at least 3,000 words a day, Martin simply follows his inspiration, which may or may not be consistent. He's also extremely picky about his writing, much of which involves editing and rewriting.

It's hard to believe, but the last book in the famous fantasy saga A Dance with Dragons came out a whopping 12 years ago, and Martin has been working tirelessly on the next installment, The Winds of Winter, ever since. And it looks like we're going to have to wait a while longer, as Martin's new update suggests that he's in creative hell as he continues to struggle with the novel.

'Maybe I should've started writing smaller books.'

In October 2022, George R.R. Martin stated that the book was largely finished.

'I think it's going to be a very big book [more than 1,500 pages] and I think I'm about three-quarters of the way done,' Martin told on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. 'The characters all interweave, and I'm actually finished with a couple of the characters, but not others. I have to finish all that weaving.'

Except that the weaving seems to be much more tangled and intricate, and Martin obviously needs more than a little time to knit certain points together. Speaking at a Bangcast in early November with author Bernard Cornwell, best known for The Last Kingdom series of historical novels that have been adapted into a Netflix series, Martin revealed that he's still prioritizing The Winds of Winter, only it's not an easy task.

'The main thing I'm actually writing, of course, is the same thing... I wish I could write as fast as [Bernard Cornwell] but I'm 12 years late on this damn novel and I'm struggling with it,' Martin admitted. 'I have like 1,100 pages written but I still have hundreds more pages to go. It's a big mother of a book for whatever reason. Maybe I should've started writing smaller books when I began this but it's tough. That's the main thing that dominates most of my working life."

Last December, the author said he had about 400-500 pages to go, and the novel is already around 1,100. Remarkably, this year's number also has 1,100 pages — it seems that Martin spends far more time reworking, revising, and editing finished material as part of the writing process than he does writing itself.

The book's release is complicated by work on other major projects

In addition to such a convoluted process of writing and polishing, The Winds of Winter may also be delayed because, while the novel is the author's priority, Martin is doing several things at once. First and foremost, of course, are the Game of Thrones spin-offs for HBO.

As such, he continues to serve as executive producer on House of the Dragon. Also, according to the author, eight other spinoffs are in development, including the recently greenlit A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight, a series based on his Tales of Dunk and Egg series.

He also serves as executive producer on AMC's Dark Winds and the feature adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death, is involved in the live-action adaptation of his In the Lost Lands and plans to begin writing Fire & Blood Volume 2. In other words, the author is busy and all we can do is wait for the release of The Winds of Winter.

Source: The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Bangcast.