Back in the day, my first agent said the average writer waits 5-7 years, struggling with rejects, prior to publication. I've just watched a Borders video featuring Lisa Scottoline and what she has to say about how long it took her to publish hits the 5-year mark. I hope you'll watch Lisa Scottoline's interview as she addresses some of what she went through prior to publication and characterization/voice, and how she decided to "out" her secret desire to write. There's a saying among writers, "If you want to write, you will."
I've only met/heard of one other published writer who admitted that she had no desire to write until later in life, not at first grade whatever. The Desire came upon her mid-thirties, as it did me; however I was an intense reader prior to that.
We put so much of ourselves into our books, such as I do with all mine and especially Flashback, about a sister's suicide. My sister did not commit suicide, but in writing and unraveling Flashback, one of my favorite stories (they all are), my emotions about my sister gave me some understanding of what that horrifying event might mean.
There is always a connection to the story, something ramped up from a personal experience that starts a story idea rolling. It's important to concentrate on those nuggets and store them, as your emotions are stirred.
In Scottoline's interview, she adds that she also writes a Sunday column and teaches courses. So this is a highly active mind, multi-tasking, which I also think lends itself toward stirring up more stories.