Where do your songs come from?

Hey, it's Mark, and one of the topics that Steve and I discuss in TAKE IT TO THE BRIDGE is that inspiration/perspiration divide. Sometimes it feels like songs just come to you, like they've flown through the air and zoomed into your head whether you were expecting them or not. Other times you might be playing chords, notes, whatever on a guitar or piano, and you hit upon something that makes you think: Ah, that could work.

My process is all over the place. Sometimes I'll think of a hook while riding my bike, I'll sing it into my phone's Voice Memo app, and when I'm back home I'll figure out what the guitar chords are and try to attach some words to the music. Other times a phrase will pop into my head, and as I explore the idea, with or without an instrument, a song will grow around it. And other times I'll be playing around with different chords and rhythms on my guitar just hoping to land on something that sticks. I know I'm getting there when what I'm playing suggests a memorable melody and maybe some useful phrases.

I've also dreamt the occasional melody, though nothing as indelible as Paul McCartney's "Scrambled Eggs."

How does it go with you? Do you write your best songs when you're actively trying to write? Or do they arrive when you've somehow made yourself open to them? (And how do you do that anyway?) Or maybe it's some combination?

Do tell.