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George R. R. Martin uses a 36-year-old DOS software to write his books



Imagine the mind from which the intricate plot of ‘Game of Thrones’ unfurls itself. Visualize George R. R. Martin seated before a modern, multi-featured laptop powered with the latest word-processing software. Now erase that image. Martin, a maestro of fantasy literature, doesn’t use modern writing tools. Instead, he turns to a piece of technology that many today might find archaic, the 36-year-old WordStar 4.0.

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WordStar, a DOS-based word processing software, dominated the digital writing scene in the 1980s, with version 4.0 having launched in 1987. Before the arrival of Windows, WordStar set the standard for word processing. Despite its obscurity in the generally modern tech culture today, Martin remains loyal to this vintage writing tool. For him, the no-frills software offers a distraction-free writing environment conducive to giving birth to his intricate plots and engrossing narrative.

George R. R. Martin’s reason for using DOS Wordstar

In an interview with Conan O’Brien back in 2014, George R. R. Martin discussed his choice to use the retro Wordstar 4.0:

“I have a secret weapon. I actually have two computers. I have the computer that I browse the internet with, and then I get my email on, and I do my taxes on that computer. And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine not connected to the Internet.

(Conan) a DOS machine?

yes, remember DOS? I use WordStar 4.0 as my word processing system

did you make this computer out of wood? Did you carve it? I’m curious why you decided to stick with this old program.

Well, I actually like it. I mean, it does everything I want a word-processing program to do, and it doesn’t do anything else. I don’t want any help. You know, I hate some of these modern systems where you type up a lowercase letter, and it becomes a capital; I don’t want a capital. If I’d wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital.

After that, Conan pointed out that Martin might also hate spell-check, to which the author agreed.

In an era where authors have a plethora of advanced software at their disposal, Martin’s choice appears anachronistic. Yet, there is a fascinating alignment here; a revered fantasy tradition penned down using a relic of tech history. Martin’s use of WordStar 4.0 is a testament to the fact that creativity thrives, irrespective of the tools at hand or the changing tech trends.

Of course, it’s been nine years since George R. R. Martin revealed this., but Martin has been working on The Winds of Winter for the entirety of that time, so there’s little reason to believe he’s switched software since then, unless of course, a WordStar 4.0 crash ended up delaying The Winds of Winter even more.

Next question: When is The Winds of Winter coming out? Everything we know about the next Game of Thrones book


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Aryan, a freelance writer with a profound passion for the English language and literature, also happens to be an ardent fan of "A Song of Ice and Fire" and its television adaptation, "Game of Thrones." Fascinated by the intricate world-building, compelling characters, and rich storytelling of these epic sagas, Aryan finds great joy in delving into the depths of their narratives and analyzing the nuances they offer.

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2 months ago

Good to hear he has no “distracting” modern word processing features slowing him down.