Here are some quotes by songwriters on the process of songwriting. I've selected these particular quotes because my experiences seem to be very similar.
Songwriting is sometimes a painful process, as John Lennon said, but also an exhilarating one - Steve Tyler expresses it much better than I could!
I always find myself strangely divided when writing a new song. Part of me lies back and accepts the ideas as they come in (usually when I'm doodling on the guitar) but another part of me coldly analyses what I'm doing and kicks the raw ideas into a coherent shape. I think it's a left-brain/right-brain thing.
Enough of me - here are the quotes:
Doc Pomus. With Mort Shuman he wrote "A Teenager in Love", "Save the Last Dance for me", "Surrender", "Sweets for my Sweet", "His Latest Flame", "Suspicion" and "Can't Get Used to Losing You"
"To be a successful songwriter, you have to write songs. It's not like you want to or think it would be a good way to make a living. It's some kind of terrible force, sometimes it's out of control. You have to keep writing.
Boudleaux Bryant. With his wife Felice he wrote "Raining in my Heart" for Buddy Holly and "Bye Bye, Love", "Wake Up, Little Susie", "All I Have to Do Is Dream", "Bird Dog" and Devoted to You" for the Everly Brothers.
"Unless one feels driven to compose and at the same time has all the instincts of a Mississippi riverboat gambler, he should never seek songwriting as a profession. Unless you know in your heart that you’re great, feel in your bones that you’re lucky and think in your soul that God just might let you get away with it, pick something more certain, like chasing the white whale or eradicating the common housefly. We didn’t have the benefit of such sage advice. Now it’s too late to back up. We made it. Sometimes it pays to be ignorant. "
Steve Tyler (of Aerosmith)
"Songwriting is a bitch. And then it has puppies"
"The best songs are written through our anger. Even though feelings change over time, our lyrics will always remain inside the song as a way of reminding us how far and how much stronger we've become since then".
Opportunities may come along for you to convert something -something that exists into something that didn't yet. That might be the beginning of it. Sometimes you just want to do things your way, want to see for yourself what lies behind the misty curtain. It's not like you see songs approaching and invite them in. It's not that easy. You want to write songs that are bigger than life. You want to say something about strange things that have happened to you, strange things you have seen. You have to know and understand something and then go past the vernacular.
"Songwriting is about getting the demon out of me. It’s like being possessed."
Thom Yorke of Radiohead
"What happens a lot with songwriting is that a melody or rhythm or something stays with you like catching a cold. And during that time what happens is that I can then fit things on to it, it all fits and glues together. Sometimes it’s crazy ‘cos it can almost be anything. But if you catch the cold then the nonsense makes sense. It’s like you’re getting beamed it, like with a ouija board and something’s pushing your hand. It’s not a pleasant experience necessarily."
"Attention to detail makes the difference between a good song and a great song."