I originally started this post with a joke explaining that you already know who Danielle Steel is if you’re a fan of reading about over-the-top wealthy family drama. But then I was like, Allison, please – anyone with eyes knows who Danielle Steel is. The number of people on Earth who haven’t seen the name STEEL embossed in gold on the spine of a jewel-toned book jacket could probably be counted on one hand. Her bestselling books are everywhere. According to Danielle Steel, there’s a very good reason why, and it has to do with her only sleeping a maximum of four hours a day. Funny, a rich woman who eschews sleep in exchange for making loads of money totally sounds like a Danielle Steel character.
Danielle Steel spoke to Glamour about her career as a prolific romance novelist. Danielle is 71 years old, and has written 179 books, over 146 of which are the kind of novels you’d definitely see sitting on the bedside tables of your most glamorous aunt’s house. Business Insider notes that Danielle Steel is worth an estimated $350 million. Being rich, successful, and 71 sounds like a recipe for retiring to the pool and only removing your sunglasses to check that your deckside assistant Jean Pierre has refreshed your cocktail. Not to Danielle. She’s got to pump out 7 books a year, and you don’t do that by sleeping.
She tells Glamour that she sits down at her gorgeously tacky book desk every day by 8am in a cashmere nightgown, and will write, write, write until her book is done. Sometimes if she finishes a book in the morning, she’ll begin another one that same afternoon.
“I keep working. The more you shy away from the material, the worse it gets. You’re better off pushing through and ending up with 30 dead pages you can correct later than just sitting there with nothing.”
Of course I wanted to know what kind of magic writing pill Danielle crushes up and snorts to keep her motivated to typing the same story about lust, danger, and shoulder pads 179 times. Apparently it’s just in her blood, and she has to do it. Sadly, there’s one story of unrequited love still left unwritten, and it’s the tale of Danielle and her poor, lonely bed. According to Danielle, the most she sleeps at night is four hours.
“I don’t get to bed until I’m so tired I could sleep on the floor. If I have four hours, it’s really a good night for me.”
You might think writing so much and sleeping so little will cause Danielle to burn out. Not so, says Danielle. She believes that getting exhausted from working too much is a “millennial affliction.” When confronted by her son about how he doesn’t work past a certain time (to maintain a work-life balance), Danielle says:
“They expect to have a nice time. And pardon me, but I think your twenties and a good part of your thirties are about working hard so that you have a better quality of life later on. I mean, I never expected that quality of life at 25. I had three jobs at the same time, and after work I wrote. Now it’s a promise that it’s all going to be fun.”
She also says she was positively horrified during a visit to Amazon after discovering the employees were spoiled with beer, video games, free food, and bringing your dog to work.
Danielle wraps it all up by saying she wants to write forever, and hopes that she dies “face-first” into her typewriter. Oh yeah, Danielle Steel still writes on a typewriter (a 1946 Olympia typewriter). She says it’s the only way she can write. That’s obviously what’s taking her so long to write. Can’t one of her nine kids hook her up with a computer retrofitted with a typewriter’s noisy keyboard? At least that way she could just copy and paste “Then she boarded her private jet to Paris” to save some time. Danielle deserves a full night’s sleep!