Inside Danielle Steel’s Writing Process: Needing ‘Everything Perfect to Start’ And Why She Still Gets Scared (Exclusive)

The bestselling author has written 212 books and counting, but she cares deeply about serving her readers well, each and every time

<p>Brigitte Lacombe</p> Danielle Steel in 2019.

Brigitte Lacombe

Danielle Steel in 2019.

Danielle Steel has written 212 books — so far — but the bestselling author still feels the pang of nerves before starting a new draft and the thrill of seeing the finished product on shelves when each publication day rolls around.

"It doesn't get old," she told PEOPLE, for a story in this week's print issue. "I'm always grateful. But also, I'm always scared in the beginning. I never think, 'Oh, I can do this. No big deal.' I'm always scared I won't get it right, or it won't be as good as it should be."

The author says it usually takes about 200 pages before she can really relax, and she strives to make her books "better every time."

For more on Danielle Steel, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

Her writing process begins with an outlines she does by hand, accompanied by exhaustive research, much of which she does herself because that attention to detail is what makes her books credible, and keeps her readers coming back.

<p>Courtesy Alessandro Calderano</p> Danielle Steel at her typewriter in 2023.

Courtesy Alessandro Calderano

Danielle Steel at her typewriter in 2023.

Once it's time to write the manuscript itself, she has to have her desk — and her headspace — ready to dive in.

"I need everything perfect to start. After that, I could make a mess, but my desk has to be cleared off. I have to have all my work done. I have to just feel peaceful and ready," she says.

Each draft begins on her Olympia typewriter because she prefers the heft of the manual keys — and she’d rather avoid the risk of accidentally deleting everything on a computer. When she's writing, which is most of the time, she might spend 20 hours at that desk, or up to 24 when she's really in the zone.

Related: PEOPLE’s Best Books of June 2024: Michael Crichton and James Patterson’s Long-Awaited Eruption Finally Arrives

"If it's flowing well, I hate to stop and go to bed, because it's kind of like skiing in the morning," Steel explains. "It's all white snow. And then you figure out the path you're going to take, and you go to sleep, and it goes away. So I tend to sit there for many, many hours."

Dedicated bookworms may know the feeling of sitting in place for too long because the book is too good to put down. That's something Steel experiences during her writing process, too.

Danielle Steel's latest, 'Resurrection'
Danielle Steel's latest, 'Resurrection'

The PEOPLE Puzzler crossword is here! How quickly can you solve it? Play now!

"When I'm really into the book, after about the first five days, my back hurts. My arms hurt," she explains. "Everything kind of hurts. And after a while, you just don't even notice the pain. You’re just so engrossed in the book."

Once the first draft is done, which can take "weeks and weeks," she makes corrections by hand. Steel will generally do that while sitting on one of her couches, often with one of her Chihuahuas in her lap. "The first draft is pretty much what rolls out of the typewriter," she adds. "And then I spend a year correcting it and changing it and polishing it."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer , from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. 

But first, she takes care to relish the moment.

"It's a great feeling when you write that last sentence on the last page," Steel says. "There's a total mess in my office. I clean up the mess. I go relax, I take a hot bath. I'm all happy with myself. It's really cool."

Steel's latest book, Resurrection, comes out June 25. It's available for preorder now, wherever books are sold.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.