George R.R. Martin’s Love for Ancient Word Processing Program WordStar Explained


A lot of people would probably love to write like George R.R. Martin. if you’re one of them, here’s your first tip: Use word processor program WordStar 4.0. But don’t bother looking for it at the app store or your local Best Buy: This program is for the DOS operating system.

Martin does have another, up to date computer, but he uses that one for cruising the web and other things that require a computer that has less computing power than a modern pocket calculator.

Martin revealed his love for WordStar during an appearance on late night TBS talk show Conan. While there have been plenty of word processor programs (and operating systems!) released since 1983, Martin prefers WordStar 4.0 because of its utilitarian, no-frills function.

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

While it’s surprising that Martin does his bestselling work on a program written for Stone Age OS DOS, he certainly makes some good points there. And apparently, he’s not alone in his love for the program. Canadian SF author Robert J. Sawyer loves it to, as did writer Christopher Buckley.

WordStar is considered abandon ware and hasn’t been officially supported since the late eighties, and DOS hasn’t been around since the days of Zork (Man, that’s a fun game. Wonder if GRRM has that on his DOS machine…), but with just a little bit of internet sleuthing and some basic PC skills, you should be able to find an emulator if you really want to write like Martin.

However, if you’re not up to hunting down WordStar, installing an emulator and then figuring out how to work this old dinosaur (I strongly recommend you do not. I remember using it and… Well…Don’t.), then you might want to consider one of the many writing programs out there specifically for authors who don’t want to be distracted by all the bells and whistles of the modern internet age. There are a great many of them out there, and if you check behind the hood of your current program, you might find a “full page” or “no distraction” mode. I know that mine does.