On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
American author, Danielle Steel, currently holds the title for bestselling author alive and the fourth bestselling fiction author of all time, with over 800 million copies of her book sold worldwide. Over the coures of her career, she has released 185 books, with a particular focus on the romance genre.
Yet, even with all her success, Steel isn’t show any signs of slowing down. In fact, it might seem like she’s speeding up, over the past decade she has published multiple new novels each; six in 2018 and seven in 2019.
The topic of Steel’s non-stop work ethic has even led to her readers questioning whether the author employs ghostwriters to help with her incredble output. Steel addressed these questions in a blog post about her process and team:
Are you kidding? Who do you think writes my books, as I hover over my typewriter for weeks at a time, working on a first draft, with unbrushed hair, in an ancient nightgown, with every inch of my body aching after typing 20 or 22 hours a day at a stretch.The Process and The Team | Danielle Steel
With homes in both Paris and San Francisco, as well as family based in New York, there are days when she forgets what city she is in. “It starts out interestingly because I travel so much between Paris, San Francisco, and New York,” she said about her day in an Oprah Magazine interview. “I notice, more and more, I wake up in the morning and say, Oh God, where am I?”
But the one thing she doesn’t forget is to write. “Dead or alive, rain or shine, I get to my desk and I do my work,” she told Glamour. Steel broke down a typical writing day for Oprah Magazine:
I try to be in my office by 8 every day. If I’m in San Francisco, I meet with my staff. If I’m not working on a book, I answer emails, work on an outline, do research. I pretty much stay at my desk all day. I eat at my desk, which I’m sure is very unhealthy and uncivilized. If I am working on a book and haven’t had a chance to write that day, I usually start writing around 8 pm and go until about 3 am. But if I start writing in the morning, whenever that is, I’ll start on the book and keep going through the day. I work, on average, 20 hours a day. Sometimes 22. Occasionally 24. And then whatever time of day it is, I sleep for four hours, then I go back to the book. I think my body is used to it.Danielle Steel Just Published Her 185th Novel, Spy—and Has No Plans of Slowing Down | The Oprah Magazine
At the start of her writing career, Steel wrote when her kids (she has nine!) went to bed, typing away in the late hours of the night. Now, with her children grown up, Steel has all the time in the world to write, but sometimes worries that she’s put too much focus on her work and nothing else in her life. “I don’t have anything else in my life,” she admitted in a Refinery29 interview. “It keeps me happy and busy. I’m not bored. I’m not depressed. It’s not such a great thing to work all the time.”
While Steel’s obsession with writing everyday has sometimes bordered on being a problem for her — she didn’t take a day off in the first eleven years of her career — the author has learnt to enjoy herself a little more these days. On some nights after work she’ll watch Netflix, and during the summers, she’ll take a week off to vacation in the South of France with her family. But it won’t be long before she’s back at her writing desk, “My tolerance for not writing is about two weeks, and then I HAVE to get back to work.”
In a more recent interview with Penguin Random House about her writing experience during the pandemic, where she was locked down in Paris by herself, Steel spoke about how she thought the solitude would have provided a great opportunity to just write, which wasn’t the case.
“My mind was blank, I was constantly distracted by my fear of getting sick, my fears for my children, and the world,” she said. It was during the COVID-19 lock down when Steel discovered she relied on the outside world to provide her with ideas and experiences to write her books.
“I absorb all the things around me, pick them up, and build a book with them, like a bird making a nest. In the silence of my own company, and a world that had come to a dead halt, there were none of the elements I use to add to a book, sometimes without even knowing it.” It took her about three months to settle back in her normal writing routine.
When a book just flows, I love it. Some of my ideas will start off as mundane, but as I write them they become magical—and I can never predict it. Other times it can feel like dragging an elephant across the room, but I get through it.How the Hell Has Danielle Steel Managed to Write 179 Books? | Glamour
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