All creative people follow processes that are highly personal in nature. In my experience, they seem to fall into two camps: those who are "fast and furious" producers, and those who prefer the slow, steady, structured route. Both styles have their merits and drawbacks. Different strokes for different folks, after all.
Impatient fans of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series will be the first to tell you which method their favorite author prefers.
Martin, whose meteoric rise to fame has been buoyed by the smash hit HBO series Game of Thrones based on his books, is known for keeping readers on the edge of their seats as they wait for the next installment in the series. For those unfamiliar with A Song of Ice and Fire, I'll give you some perspective: A Dance with Dragons, the fifth book in the projected seven-book series, was released while I was pregnant with my first son. That kid is starting kindergarten this year, and Martin is still nowhere near releasing the sixth installment, the much-anticipated Winds of Winter. Winter is coming, though -- har, har, har. Just don't hold your breath.
Long-suffering readers are used to Martin's glacial rate of production. There was also a six-year gap between books four and five in the series.
So what's the holdup? Why is Martin torturing us? (Besides sheer sadism. Any true fan is familiar with the tragic fates that befall many of Martin's favorite characters in the series).
One interpretation of these delays is that they are a very, very deliberate part of the wildly popular writer's creative process. "I have more ideas now than I could ever write up," he says. "To my mind, it's the execution that is all-important." And therein lies the rub: execution. Anyone can dream up a thousand ideas, but the skill to execute any one of them to the creator's exacting specifications is another matter entirely. And Martin is nothing if not exacting. There's a parallel to be drawn with another legendary innovator: Steve Jobs. As Jobs famously said, "There is a tremendous amount of craftsmanship between a great idea and a great product." That idea is still a driving force behind how Apple makes its products: It waits until they're perfected to roll them out, and is willing to move back deadlines to do so. Martin and Jobs would have gotten along famously.
Of course, another theory is that Martin is only human. Other sources have speculated the author's surge in popularity since the HBO series came out drove him to seek distraction in his blog and other projects to divert some of the mounting pressure for new ASoIaF content.
One thing is clear. According to Martin, "It'll be done when it's done."