Although my other ambition was to be a musical theater star (and I would attend college on a voice scholarship), writing was never far from my mind.
I have a great deal of empathy for anyone who's having a hard time. I believe this ability to see another's viewpoint has served me well as a writer.
Since I've written many of my books from a less-than-sympathetic viewpoint, I think that being able to see things from all sides is a useful talent.
Each of my books took roughly one and a half years to write. Some may have taken a shorter time to write the draft and a longer time to revise, while others were the opposite.
I was painfully shy, and I had tremendous difficulty making friends. So, lacking friends, I watched other people. Watching is something all writers must do, and it was in junior high that I learned to do it.