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No Wonder it Takes George R.R. Martin So Long to Write: He Still Uses a Damn DOS Computer

Want to know why it’s taken George R.R. Martin forfreakingever to finish up the last two novels of the A Song of Ice and Fire series? That behemoth of exquisite fantasy that’s gone on to be known as the source material for HBO’s Game of Thrones? Is it because it’s taking him longer than he planned to figure out the perfect way to unify Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, and Dany Targaryen atop her three dragons to rule the world of Westeros? Well, no, apparently not (ugh). It’s actually because he keeps using technology that is absolutely ancient. It should also probably be considered that those books are often over a thousand pages each, so, y’know: also that.

While appearing on Conan last night, the author admitted that he keeps things sorta lo-fi as far as computing goes. In fact he hasn’t even left the ’80s in that regard. Martin admitted during a visit to Conan O’Brien’s eponymously named show that he uses a DOS computer — not at all hooked up to the Internet, though we’re not sure it really could even if he wanted it to, to be honest — to type up his many, many pages of epic fantasy. “Unlike most authors you’re not worried about a computer virus,” O’Brien posited, causing us a flurry of questions and thoughts. What? How is this possible? Does he have a super-impenetrable Mac or something? Has he programmed his own virus protection code?

Nope. Martin’s just all about keeping it über-retro:

Wordstar 4.0! A DOS machine from 1985. Oh, George R.R. Martin, never change (but do please hurry it up already, OK? Thanks).

Are you surprised Martin kicks it old school? Let us know in the comments.



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  1. Annie Lee says:

    cheeezz, George.  Come on — you can buy a great laptop for less than $600.  you’re killing me, dude.  I am 67 years old and reading all the books for the eighth time.  Unless some scientist is working on an immortality pill, I may have to haunt somebody to read the last books!

  2. Katy says:

    I don’t think it’s so much the technology that’s holding back winds of winter. I think it’s more to do with George bathing in, spending, dining on and dancing around large vats of money. Probably dollars, not golden dragons…

  3. We writers are a quirky lot, so, no, not a surprise to me.

  4. D. says:

    I don’t care if he writes it out long hand, just finish the darn books already!!!

  5. Jeff says:

    Apparently his fridge is very modern however.

  6. Pierce says:

    Why is this being put out as news??? Any nerdist fan would’ve heard this on the podcast months ago and any GoT fan could’ve known this for years. 

  7. Collin says:

    Nope, his method to prevent his pending work from being stolen makes a great deal of sense. The retro laptop does not have the bloated frameworks installed to be exploited.

  8. lewiscypher says:

    I have the same problem.  Porn is just too distracting.

  9. Darth says:


  10. Reese says:

    Alicia, sensationalize much?

    It’s one thing to title articles attractive to readers because of content, and it’s another thing to title articles in a misleading manner for the sole purpose of clickbait.

    The title is just wrong: George R. R. Martin takes a long time to write A Song of Ice and Fire because it is one of the most, if not the most, complex fantasy series written to date. I realize you note that his books can be over a thousand pages, but please hear me out:

    Martin is a master of his craft. Any dedicated reader of his would not disrespect him by saying he takes “forfreakingever” to write in general. No, he does not take “forfreakingever.” What if somebody told you, as a writer, that you take “forfreakingever” to write?

    “Ha ha, don’t get mad, I was just kidding about you taking forever,” that somebody would tell you after you displayed irritation regarding the comment.

    “It was all in jest.”

    But it would still get to you.

    My point is, any considerate individual would employ patience in such matters. There is no true “nerd” who would say Martin takes “forfreakingever,” or avid reader, and especially not somebody who’s supposed to exercise journalistic integrity. Also, have you ever used WordStar 4.0? It’s plenty quick enough to get the job done. It’s a far cry from inscribing stone tablets.

    Sure, it’s hilarious that Martin uses WordStar 4.0. That’s interesting in and of itself. Therefore there’s no need to mislead readers and say that is the REASON why he takes a long time to write his series. Guess what Slate titled a similar article?

    “George R. R. Martin Writes on a DOS-Based Word Processor From the 1980s.”

    The content of the article is enough to attract an audience.

    • Natasha says:

      Guess you don’t get sarcasm 

    • The Bean says:

      Someone takes things just a little too seriously…

      • Alex C says:

        Amen. This guy is the epitome of the anal-retentive nerd…he probably starts arguments over whether Starbuck was really an angel in Battlestar Galactica.

    • Jube says:

      lol… most complex fantasy novels to date? you obviously have not read the Malazan Book of the Fallen series… Those books are many MANY time more complex than GOT (and better written I might add) and the Author (Steven Erikson) only took 12 years to complete it (its a 10 book series). When you see the level of detail in Eriksons books, you will recognise that George RR Martin is taking WAY too long to write out and finish GOT.

  11. nicholas says:

    I think he said this on the Nerdist podcast. He said he likes the minor nuances and that it types what he wants it to type and not what auto correct tells him.

  12. Noah Rainey says:

    He said in the interview he has two computers, one for browsing the Internet and the DOS-monster he writes with.  Not at all surprising though, I write all the time, and I find myself liking to keep it simple with note pad.  

  13. It’s probably better, no internet to distract him when he’s on the computer. It’s only slightly faster than using a typewriter.