Danielle Steel (born in 1947) is the bestselling author alive, with about 150 novels in the world.
Here are four of her wonderful quotes to inspire your writing!
1. A book begins with an image or character or situation that I care about deeply.
Novels are funny things in that all those characters, and all those scenes, and all those words, usually stem from a single image that pops in your head. An idea. A situation. Something about a person that intrigues you. A novel is like a million puzzle pieces that need to come together, but they all start with one thing. People ask me all the time how I come up with my novel ideas, and more often than not it’s an image. Something that bounces around my brain for awhile that intrigues me, and that I want to explore further.
If you want to write a novel, your ideas can come from anywhere you want, but at the end of the day, you need to care about those ideas deeply. You need to have passion for your story and for what you might be able to do with it. You never want to go into a novel project lightly, and instead you want to pursue something that excites you, that haunts you, that you find yourself thinking about every day for a long, long time. Those ideas that never fade? Go with those, always.
2. I’m astonished by my success. I wrote because I needed to and wanted to. It never occurred to me that I’d become famous.
Call it a guess, but I’d assume most authors who become super successful in their writing careers were all astonished when they reached a high level of fame and financial stability. Most authors get to that successful place not because they’re vain or overly ambitious but because they love to write, and they practice their craft throughout the years. They love storytelling, and they built their lives on it.
If you get into novel writing for no other reason than to make money, you’re already a failure in a sense, because your readers will have the ability to sniff out that lack of authenticity. They’ll see how you’re just copying what other better writers have done before and they won’t want to go on a second journey with you. Readers, on the other hand, can sniff out the stories that were written with love and hard work and lots of imagination. They know when an author knows what they’re doing, and those are the stories we look for all the time.
Did Danielle Steel get to where she is today because she got lucky? Of course not. She’s a workaholic who’s produced more than 200 bestselling novels and who hasn’t slowed down for decades. She loves to write, and her millions of adoring readers will always be there to pick up her next book. I can’t think of a more fulfilling life than that. To be able to do what I love… and then share that with people all around the world who actually want to read it? What a life that would be.
3. I wish I were brave, although I try. I work too hard and don’t play enough. Too much work ethic, not enough ‘fun’.
Yes, it’s important to work hard and produce a lot of words and try to make time every day to write at least a little bit. Nothing will make you a better writer than practice, practice, practice. Than trying something new and failing at it, and then picking yourself up the next day and trying something else. You’re not going to find success as a writer if you just do it here and there, when you feel inspired, when you feel like it. You have to think of writing as a job and do it every day.
But at the same time, there is such a thing as working too much. As writing so often day after day that you forget to have anything resembling an actual life. First of all, it’s good for your soul to have fun, see friends, travel, do something outside your dark writing room. And second, what the hell are you going to write about if all you do is sit in a room and write? You have to live, you have to love, you have to experience. Living your life is what gives you the ideas and inspiration. Write often, work hard, but also don’t forget to have fun, too.
4. Writing is a solitary endeavor, but not a lonely one. When you write, your world is populated by the characters you invent, and you feel those people filling your life.
Danielle Steel makes an excellent point here. She’s absolutely right in that there is a difference between a solitary endeavor and a lonely one. Yes, you spend most of your time alone when you write. Many, many hours of the day with the door closed and your fingernails hacking away at a keyboard. You’re isolated. You’re by yourself. But you’re not lonely. Because you’re spending part of your day with characters of your own invention, and how cool is that?
It’s weird to say this, but at times I feel lonelier when I’m around other people than when I’m alone in my office working hard on my latest story. When the writing is going really, really well, there is no loneliness, trust me, only the greatest joy. You get lost in the world of your own making, and your characters start to become so real their voices are practically spilling out onto the page. It’s a dream job, it really is, so if writing ever feels lonely to you, then it might not be the job for you. Writing should be fun and freeing and playful, always.
Steel’s career is proof that you can work really hard and write hundreds of bestselling books and enjoy yourself immensely throughout the process. If you want to be a writer, you’re going to need to give it a try. Danielle Steel wasn’t Danielle Steel in the beginning, after all. She earned her fame and fortune, and you know what? So can you. Give it everything you’ve got for as long as it takes… and then see what happens.
Brian Rowe is a writer, teacher, and constant dreamer. He received his MFA in Creative Writing and MA in English from the University of Nevada, Reno, and his BA in Film from Loyola Marymount University. He’s on Facebook and Twitter, and you can read more of his work at brianrowebooks.com.