Not telling.
A love of words, a love of poetry and a love of humanity.
My first memory of picking up a pen was when I was about three, but I don’t think my early efforts were much to brag about. By the time I was eight, I was producing quite long rhyming ballads that drew the admiration of adults and I’d written two small novels by the age of 12.
How long is a piece of string? Theoretically, if you did everything well and made no mistakes, you could write a 60,000-word novel in three months. That wasn’t the case with me. I wrote 60,000 words very quickly then spent years (well maybe a year full time) fixing up my mistakes.
Persevere, read everything you can about your genre, read everything you can about the art of writing, and be prepared to cut, cut, cut – even your best lines (I have a file that I dump all of my “treasures” into in the hope they will find new life in another book). I call it “resurrection”.
I have many that I love. They include: The Hobbit, Silver Brumbies of the South, Dragonkeeper, The Borrowers, The Waterbabies, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Horse and his Boy and many more.