A complete timeline of George R.R. Martin's progress on The Winds of Winter

The much-anticipated sequel has been a long, long, long time coming

Is winter still coming, or what? If you've ever found yourself struggling to meet deadlines, it's surely nothing compared to what George R.R. Martin is experiencing, as fans have been waiting for the next novel in the author's Game of Thrones book series for nearly 12 years now. Will the highly anticipated sixth installment, The Winds of Winter, ever be published, or will Martin's epic fantasy series forever remain unfinished? Let's take a look at all the status updates we've gotten so far, some promising and some very much not: 

June 2010: Martin has written 4 chapters of 'The Winds of Winter'

In a June 2010 blog, Martin announces he has moved two completed chapters (told from Arianne's point of view) from A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, into the sixth book, The Winds of Winter. He describes this as "good news for" The Winds of Winter, as he now has "four chapters done for that one (an Arya, a Sansa, and two Ariannes)." 

July 2010: Martin has written more than 100 pages

The following month, Martin again says he has moved a chapter, this time focused on Aeron Greyjoy, into The Winds of Winter from A Dance with Dragons. "The good news is that I seem to have written more than a hundred pages of The Winds of Winter already," he says. 

April 2011: Martin predicts 'The Winds of Winter' will take 3 years to finish

In an April 2011 interview with The Guardian, Martin predicts he will complete The Winds of Winter in about three years, a faster pace than the previous book. "Realistically, it's going to take me three years to finish the next one at a good pace," he says, adding, "I hope it doesn't take me six years like this last one has." 

July 2011: 'A Dance with Dragons' is published

Martin publishes the series' fifth novel, A Dance with Dragons, in July 2011. To this day, it is still the last full Song of Ice and Fire installment, and it ends on several major cliffhangers, including the apparent death of Jon Snow. The novel hits bookshelves just a few weeks after the Game of Thrones season 1 finale. 

The month of A Dance with Dragons' publication, Martin tells Entertainment Weekly he will return to working on The Winds of Winter in January 2012. 

October 2012: Martin has written 400 pages 

Martin provides a promising update in October 2012 when he tells Adria's News, "I've already written 400 pages of my sixth book and I really look forward to publishing it in 2014." However, he warns he is "really bad" at predictions, and "of these 400 pages, only 200 are really finished because I still have to revise the other 200 pages, which are in a rough version and I still have to work on them a lot." 

April 2015: Martin hopes to release the book by 2016

Despite Martin's 2014 predictions, the book is nowhere to be found more than two years later. But in April 2015, he notes he's hoping to finish before the sixth season of Game of Thrones airs the following year, telling Entertainment Weekly this "has been important to me all along." 

This deadline is significant because season six is the point at which the HBO show will begin covering the events of The Winds of Winter in a major way after passing the published book material. Martin tells EW he's doing "anything I can do to clear my decks and get this done," including canceling convention appearances. 

January 2016: Martin reveals he missed multiple deadlines in 2015

In January 2016, though, Martin says it gives him "no pleasure" to report The Winds of Winter is still not finished. Further, he describes how his publishers gave him two separate deadlines the previous year, first in October and then in December, to complete the book in order to ensure it would be out before Game of Thrones' sixth season, but "unfortunately, the writing did not go as fast or as well as I would have liked." 

In May 2015, the October deadline "seemed very do-able to me," Martin writes. Even by August, Martin says he felt "confident" he could complete the book by the end of the year, but he ended up missing both deadlines. "I tried, I promise you," he writes. "I failed. I blew the Halloween deadline, and I've now blown the end of the year deadline." Martin tells fans he is still "months away" from finishing, "and that's if the writing goes well," though he is "not going to set another deadline for myself to trip over." 

This is when it becomes 100 percent certain that the HBO show will pass the books and effectively spoil the events of Martin's unreleased novels, as he shared details of his future plans with the series' creators. "Look, I never thought the series could possibly catch up with the books, but it has," Martin says. "The show moved faster than I anticipated and I moved more slowly." 

February 2016: Martin isn't writing anything else until 'Winds' is finished

In a comment on his blog the following month, Martin says he is "not writing anything until I deliver" The Winds of Winter. "Teleplays, screenplays, short stories, introductions, forewords, nothing," he writes. "And I've dropped all my editing projects but Wild Cards." Martin, however, later walks this back. 

January 2017: Martin predicts the book will be out 'this year'

One year later, Martin says he's still "not done" with The Winds of Winter yet and admits he hasn't made as much progress "as I hoped a year ago, when I thought to be done by now." He adds, "I think it will be out this year. (But hey, I thought the same thing last year)."

July 2017: Martin confirms he'll release 'a Westeros book' in 2018

Martin tells fans in July 2017 that he is "still months away" from finishing The Winds of Winter. He also notes, however, that despite his earlier statement that he isn't writing anything else until Winds is done, he is working on the book Fire & Blood, a history of the Targaryen dynasty. He says he isn't sure whether Fire & Blood or The Winds of Winter will be published first, though. "I do think you will have a Westeros book from me in 2018 … and who knows, maybe two," Martin writes. "A boy can dream."

April 2018: Martin confirms 'Winds' isn't coming in 2018

A boy can keep dreaming, as in an April 2018 blog, Martin confirms The Winds of Winter will not be published before the end of the year, so "you're going to have to keep waiting." 

June 2018: Martin says 'Winds' is still his 'top priority'

After news that HBO has greenlit a pilot for its first Game of Thrones spinoff series, Martin assures fans that The Winds of Winter "remains my top priority," adding, "It is ridiculous to think otherwise."  

November 2018: 'Fire & Blood' is published

A new Westeros book does, in fact, come out in 2018, but it's Fire & Blood, not The Winds of Winter. Fire & Blood eventually serves as the source material for the Game of Thrones prequel series House of the Dragon

The month of Fire & Blood's release in November 2018, Martin admits to Entertainment Weekly he's "mad" at himself for not finishing The Winds of Winter yet and has "had dark nights of the soul where I've pounded my head against the keyboard and said, 'God, will I ever finish this? The show is going further and further forward and I'm falling further and further behind. What the hell is happening here?'" The Wall Street Journal reports Martin is now "in hiding" at an undisclosed remote mountain "he visits when he wants to hunker down to finish a book." 

Martin later admits in a Penguin Random House Q&A he paused working on The Winds of Winter for some time to finish Fire & Blood so it could serve as source material for House of the Dragon

"I asked [Penguin Random House], 'Do you want me to just ignore the new show that's coming down the pike, or should I finish [Fire & Blood] so you can get it out, and then go back to [The Winds of Winter]?" Martin says. "And they said, 'Yeah, give us the new book that's closer to being done instead of two more books.' So I put The Winds of Winter aside for a while and I concentrated on finishing Fire & Blood."  

According to Martin, he "switched immediately back" to working on The Winds of Winter after Fire & Blood was finished. Martin is also planning a second volume of Fire & Blood

May 2019: Martin jokes fans can 'imprison me' if he's not finished by July 2020

In a May 2019 blog, Martin jokingly tells fans that "if I don't have The Winds of Winter in hand when I arrive in New Zealand" for the World Science Fiction Convention in July 2020, "you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I'm done."

June 2020: Martin still has a 'long way to go'

In a June 2020 blog, just one month before that infamous "imprison me" deadline, Martin writes he's "spending long hours every day" on the book and is "making steady progress." But "it's going to be a huge book," he adds, "and I still have a long way to go." (The pandemic, though, gives him an out in that the World Science Fiction Convention goes virtual that year, meaning he technically never physically arrives there.)  

February 2021: Martin still has 'hundreds of more pages to write'

Martin reveals in February 2021 he wrote "hundreds and hundreds of pages" of The Winds of Winter in 2020, calling this his best year on the project yet. "Why? I don't know," he says. "Maybe the isolation. Or maybe I just got on a roll. Sometimes I do get on a roll." However, Martin cautions he still has "hundreds of more pages to write to bring the novel to a satisfactory conclusion," adding, "That's what 2021 is for, I hope." But he notes, "I have a zillion other things to do as well." 

March 2022: Martin admits he made 'less' progress in 2021

Martin writes a similar blog near the start of 2022, admitting in March, "I made a lot of progress on Winds in 2020, and less in 2021 … but 'less' is not 'none.'" In this blog, Martin seems to be easing fans into the idea that Winds is no longer his only priority, in contrast to his prior promise to write nothing else until it's finished. 

"Westeros has become bigger than The Winds of Winter," he says, describing the "enormous number of projects" he has on his plate, including a second volume of Fire & Blood (which he has already written a "couple hundred pages" of) and more Dunk & Egg novellas. Plus, Martin notes he is "heavily involved" in all of the Game of Thrones spinoff shows, which have taken up a "ton" of his time and attention. "I know, I know, for many of you out there, only one of those projects matters," Martin writes. "I am sorry for you. They ALL matter to me." 

October 2022: Martin is 'three-quarters of the way done' 

Martin provides his most substantial progress update in years during a Penguin Random House Q&A in October 2022, revealing he's "about three-quarters of the way done" with the book. 

This same month, Martin also says on The Late Show he has finished writing the storylines of "a couple of" characters. "But it's still going to take me a while," he adds. To put this in perspective, these comments come over seven years after Martin felt he could realistically complete the book within a few months. 

December 2022: Martin has 400 or 500 pages left to write 

Martin gets more specific in an interview on Stephen Colbert's Tooning Out the News, saying he has written roughly 1,100 or 1,200 pages and needs to write "another 400, 500" more. Martin seems to be referring to manuscript pages, which are different from published book pages. For comparison, Martin has said A Dance with Dragons and A Storm of Swords were about 1,500 manuscript pages, but they were each around 1,000 pages when published. 

In his Penguin Random House Q&A, Martin suggests part of what's been taking so long is his frequent rewriting, as he notes he recently was "re-reading some chapters that I'd written earlier, and I didn't like them well enough, so I kind of ripped them apart and rewrote them." 

April 2023: Martin to produce new 'Game of Thrones' spinoff 

A second Game of Thrones prequel series called A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms: The Hedge Knight is ordered in April 2023, and HBO says Martin will serve as writer and producer. This series will be based on his Dunk & Egg novellas.

But Martin still plans to publish more Dunk & Egg stories, so he once again finds himself in a situation where an HBO show could eventually pass his published material. "Before we reach the end of the published stories, I will need to find time to write all the other Dunk & Egg novellas that I have planned," Martin says on his blog. "There are … gulp … more of them than I had once thought."

It's easy to forget amid this epic delay that The Winds of Winter won't even end the series, as Martin plans to follow it up with a seventh book, A Dream of Spring. On his blog, Martin says his current plan is to "finish The Winds of Winter, and then do either A Dream of Spring or volume two of Fire & Blood, and slip in a new Dunk & Egg between each of those in my copious spare time," which should "keep me ahead of" HBO's A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. As book fans know by now, though, words are wind. 


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