George R.R. Martin’s Secret To Productive Writing: A DOS Computer

George R.R. Martin possesses a once-in-a-generation imagination, with a Tolkien-like ability to conjure up the sprawling fantasy worlds teeming with hidden messages now running every Sunday night on HBO’s adaptation of his work, Game of Thrones. As Tuesday night’s special guest on Conan, the A Song Of Fire and Ice author revealed one of his low-tech secrets to ridding himself of distractions to focus on writing, and it’s kind of barbaric; downright Dothraki-esque.

“I actually have two computers: I have the computer that I browse the Internet with that I get my email on, that I do my taxes on,” he said, trailing off. “And then I have my writing computer, which is a DOS machine not connected to the Internet.”

The program he uses to churn out thousands of pages of prose is WordStar 4.0, an ultra-minimal word processing application from the ’80s. Unlike some of today’s intentionally bare-bones writing applications, it is minimal due to technological constraints, not by design.

So why does he deliberately use DOS, and not, say, something a bit more modern?

I actually like it. It does everything I want a word processing program to do, and it doesn’t do anything else. I don’t want any help. I hate some of these modern systems where you type a lowercase letter and it becomes a capital. I don’t want a capital. If I wanted a capital, I would have typed a capital. I know how to work a shift key.

With two presumably very long novels left in the seven-part series (and with the HBO show quickly catching up to the books), some fans are worried that Martin, 65, isn’t writing fast enough.

At least he doesn’t have to run “Daenerys” through autocorrect.CG