How to Write Like Danielle Steel – You can write like Danielle Steel, but it won’t be easy.
Whether you like romance or not, Danielle Steel is a household name – and for good reason. The novel-machine that is Steel pumps out half a dozen new books per year, making her total number of books a constantly booming phenomenon.
To date, she’s penned more than 179 books.
Let that sink in. 179. Here’s a nice rundown of most of them. But it’s hard to keep up with them all because she never stops writing. The best way to stay up-to-date with her work is through her website, which, no surprise here, is daniellesteel.com.
Her other writer stats are just as note-worthy…
Danielle Steel Stats
- She published her first book at 25
- She has sold 650 million copies worldwide
- She is published in 69 countries (I bet neither of us can pronounce all of them)
- She is published in 43 languages – wait, aren’t there only, like, 7 of them 🙂
- To date, she has written more than 179 books
Oh, and did I mention she did all that while raising 9 (count em’, 9) little humans?! Apparently, she does everything in batches. 🙂
Here’s the real kicker: every one of those 179 books is a bestseller. Every. Single. One.
Do you know what that means? Steel knows story. If you want to write bestsellers, you’d be wise to study at the feet (page?) of one of the masters. If you want to live the life of a full-time writer, model your habits after one. You become what you pay attention to.
Let’s dig into the most important ways you can learn how to write like Danielle Steel.
Also, check out my post Writing a Character With Down Syndrome (Ultimate Guide)
What Kind Of Books Does Danielle Steel Write?
If you want to know how to write like Danielle Steel, you must first know what kind of books she writes.
The short answer is that she writes romances. But that simplifies it a bit because only her main genre or category is romance.
Romance is what she’s known for. If Stephen is the King of Horror, Danielle is the Queen of Romance.
When you sift through the finer details of the books she’s written, you find a wide exploration of genre, cross-genre, and subgenres.
- Take Child’s Play for example: it’s about a mother struggling with family secrets. Romance? Maybe.
- Compare that to Undercover, which is basically a spy thriller.
Both great books, just very different.
She’s also published poetry, children’s fiction, and even nonfiction. So, if you write in many genres or subgenres already, then you have a head start for how to write like Danielle Steel.
Hidden Patterns in her Stories
Anyone who wants to learn how to write like Danielle Steel is wise to study her work. And there’s plenty of work to reverse-engineer.
Once you start reading her stories, you’ll begin to notice patterns.
Here are just some of the patterns that have emerged in my reading:
- Her books typically involve wealth, families, secrets, and – you guessed it – romance.
- She follows a formula (Critics like to attack her for it, but EVERY successful person follows a formula. Some are just more obvious).
- See the How to Write Like Danielle Steel Formula below!!
How to Write like Danielle Steel – The Danielle Steel Formula
If you have ever wandered into a library or bookstore by mistake, traveled outside your house, or been on the internet (hint: you are there right now), you know that Steel is a uber prolific writer. And she was writing since childhood.
All that constant writing, writing, writing allows her to hone her craft, stay sharp, and develop deeper and deeper insights about storytelling.
If you want to write like Danielle Steel, write like a madman – well, madwoman. Write every day, as often as possible.
Steel credits discipline and hard work for her success. In fact, when asked what advice she would give aspiring authors, she came back with this line:
“The best advice I can give anyone on any subject, writing or other is: Work, work, work, work, work, work, work WORK!!! Work Hard!!” – Danielle Steel
The application here is simple, but not always easy: write every day no matter what. Set a schedule and stick to it – no excuses. Discipline is a monster best kept in a cage.
Steel approaches her writing sessions with structured intensity. There is nothing wrong with being a Panster, but she’s not one of them.
How to write like Danielle Steel? Be prepared. Gather your ideas and your materials. Make a plan and stick with the plan. Design your story structure and then work within its limits. Don’t stray. Don’t doddle.
Steel is structured, but she scoffs at those who would try to pigeonhole her.
“Pigeonholes are never accurate, except for pigeons” – Danielle Steel
In interviews, Danielle Steel has confessed that she writes her ideas in the order they come to her. This means she gets lots of ideas, records them somehow, and commits to them one-by-one. She accepts ideas on a first-come, first-served basis. Muses be warned.
Here’s your “How to Write Like Danielle Steel” application:
- Look for ideas everywhere
- Record your ideas (on paper, Evernote, audio record, etc)
- Write your ideas in the order they come to you
Blocked on ideas? Read my post How to Overcome Writer’s Block (Ultimate No-Fail System)
Surprisingly, she claims to work on several books at once (but always in order of idea, always). This multi-tasking queen puts out so many books per year James Patterson might be ghostwriting for her.
Stuck with one novel? Write another. Maybe two. Nothing frees up the muse like the literary slip-n-slide of words flowing on the page.
Steel a Workhorse
Most readers imagine authors leisurely scribbling a few pages in a cabin by the sea for 20, no let’s say 30, minutes a day before hitting the sun and surf for the other twenty-three and a half.
Not so with Danielle Steel (if anyone).
Even when she’s not writing (which is rare), she puts in 18 to 20 hours. When she’s writing, it’s more like 20 to 24-hour writing stints broken only by forced unconsciousness (i.e. sleep).
How does she know when to stop?
She stops when the ideas stop.
Not only does she barrel through a grueling 21-hour writing marathon – still, at 71 – her formula for churning out bestsellers includes what productivity experts now call “batching”.
They say the time and energy it takes to shift from one type of task (say writing) to another (changing a diaper or running out for red staplers) kills effectiveness.
Basically, she is laser-focused on the one task of writing and the poster child for “batching.”
How to write like Danielle Steel? Copy her formula by batching your workloads – do all your planning in one long chunk of time, your writing in another, your marketing or promotion in another.
Steel a Classic
Proving that you can’t improve on a perfect piece of machinery, Danielle shirks computers for her 1946 Olympia Typewriter. (Side note: Dean Koontz also uses old technology…hmmm…). So, if you want to copy the How to Write Like Danielle Steel Formula, chuck your fancy pansy MacBook and get yourself a classic typewriter, baby.
Steel a Favorite
Her favorite novel that she has written? The one she’s working on. Or the two or three. But who’s counting?
Fall in love with you WIP. Obsess over it like a celebrity on a pre-movie release tour. What you love reveals its secrets to you. So love your current story. Play favorites…for now.
When people ask me how to write like Danielle Steel, another factor I point out is where she chooses to write.
“The conclusion to be drawn is that I am happiest writing in small rooms. They make me feel comfortable and secure. And it took me years to figure out that I need to write in a corner. Like a small animal burrowing into its hole, I shift furniture around, and back myself into a cozy corner, with my back to the wall … and then I can write.”
As they say in Hollywood, “Location, location, location!”
Where you write can have a HUGE, outsized impact on how many words or pages you get in. A consistent, focused writer space can do wonders for your creativity, productivity, and focus. That’s the triple threat of writing in the “zone”.
Therefore, if you want to apply this method for how to write like Danielle Steel, then choose your writing space carefully. Perhaps experiment with the place, size, and sensory stimulation (some famous writers liked to stand and write, some like blaring rock music, while some like tiny rooms and silence).
Find out what works for YOU! And then do a lot of it.
That’s the real How to Write Like Danielle Steel Formula.
The Steel Summary
There you have it: Eight ways for you to know exactly how to write like Danielle Steel. For a quick list of how to copy her strategies, try these strategies:
- Write a lot
- Write everyday
- Write in structured bursts – “sprints”
- Write in the order the ideas come
- Write several books at one time
- Write in long marathons – “Batching”
- Write until the ideas stop
- Write drunk and edit sober
- Write in a small room (better to corner your muse)
Bonus Fun Fact: What is the First Novel Danielle Steel Ever Wrote?
The first novel she ever wrote is GOING HOME, which she penned in 1972. GOING HOME
As far as anyone can tell, she hasn’t stopped writing since.
Before you go, check out my post The Best Writing Books For Beginners
If you are a fan of all-things Danielle Steel, here is a short-list of links you might want to check out:
What Do The Most Highly Paid Authors Have In Common? by Joanna Penn of Creative Penn
And, of course, who better to tell us about Danielle Steel than the famous author herself. This video is older but still relevant if you want to know exactly how to write like Danielle Steel from the writer herself!
Here’s a newer video interview so that you can get another perspective about this most prolific writer:
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