Procrastination and Game of Thrones

If you’re a fantasy fan (in book or tv/movie format), then you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with George RR Martin’s Game of Throns/Song of Fire and Ice series. HBO’s been adapting the books, and they’re now into their 6th season, which started Sunday.

What’s garnering a fair bit of attention right now is the fact that the shows are finally ahead of the books. For a bit of context, the TV shows started in 2011. The first book was published in 1996. Specifically, the first book was published in 1996, the second in 1999, the third in 2000, the fourth in 2005, and the fifth in 2011, the same year as the TV series began. Supposedly, there are still two more novels to go to finish the series, and three more seasons (including this one) to finish the TV adaptations.

I’ve read all the book and watched all the movies. I’ve been reading the books since they came out in 1996, so I’ve been with the series for quite some time.

The natural question that comes up is “How is it that Martin is taking so long to write these final books? How long can it really take?”

I’m not George RR Martin. I don’t know anything about his writing process, and I don’t know anything about what’s affecting his speed in this instance. This really isn’t a case where I can even pretend to have some idea about what he’s going through, since I write books and he writes books. Nope. My books are about 60,000 to 110,000 words long each. His books? 300,000 to 425,000 words. (And writing a longer book isn’t just a matter of writing more words. They become a lot more complex. More moving pieces to keep in mind, more plots to pay attention to. It’s exponentially more difficult.)

On the other hand, I’m also friends with Brandon Sanderson, whose books regularly clock in over 300,000 words, and yet is able to churn them out year after year with no end in sight.

The question seems clear: How is it that Sanderson can do it and Martin can’t?

Well, for one thing, writing is an art. People approach it different ways. So trying to compare writing speeds is basically unfair. Composers might take different times to pen a piece of music. Why? Because that’s how they work. Art shouldn’t be rushed.

So, you ask, what exactly are you qualified to talk about, Bryce? Why are you writing this article?

Basically, it’s a response to seeing the Game of Thrones story continue at long last, and a reflection on how seeing it unfold affected me. See, there are plenty of times in my life that I feel like I have an insurmountable task in front of me: that I have something I need to tackle that just can’t be tackled. I don’t even know where to start.

It’s like I need to write the sixth book of A Song of Fire and Ice, and I just can’t get going.

But when season six started? It just moved forward. It began advancing plot points, just like all the other seasons have done. Bit by bit, the blanks get filled in.

That’s been my personal experience with writing. That when I hit a wall, the best thing for me to do is just keep writing. Nothing is insurmountable. Nothing takes forever.

And that’s when I realize I just wrote a blog equivalent of this scene from the Three Amigos. Maybe I should have just linked to it to begin with. Ah well. Happy Thursday, everybody!

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