I don't know how OTHER songwriters do it, but SO many of my songs have a story behind the song and almost ALL of them TELL a story to boot! As much as I hate going through trials and tribulations, EVERY one of them has been blessed in the end by God sending me a song to help me heal or get THROUGH the event itself.
Take just one example, the song "Smile for Me"....I had a friend whose father was struggling with cancer...I had prayed SO many times for her, for her family, and finally the prayer became, Lord if it be YOUR will, just let him find peace. Peace was in the form of him losing the battle and dying. The family was devastated as you can well imagine, but in all that grief, I woke to a song in the middle of the night!! It was SO strong, SO powerful, I HAD to get up and write it down and sing it into my phone so I wouldn't forget the tune! I woke up the following morning SINGING the song in my sleep!! When they had the service at our church, I sang this song and gave them a recorded version of it. The family members continued for weeks to thank me for the healing and comfort it was bringing. The "pat on the back" was nice but the greatest gift was knowing it didn't come from ME but was a direct gift from God! Well, when my father passed away, I sang it almost 24 hours a day for 2 days. I was STILL sad but God was working on me. 2 days after my father passed away, I wrote the song "I Don't Wanna Say Goodbye". It was meant as a reflection of what I feeling but had a "party" feel to the beat because my father didn't want folks crying and grieving...he wanted a PARTY...A CELEBRATION!! So we had a wake for him and I sang the song again bringing comfort to many who were there.
If you are a songwriter, don't shy from the events that give such a strong emotion! Don't bury that emotion! That event can be a useful tool in your writing arsenal. Use it, write about it....it might not be a "hit" but I can almost guarantee, your song WILL resonate with SOMEONE ELSE who is going through or has just GONE through what you did! Even if you can't write MUSIC, just write the words. You just might connect with someone who has a tune with no words...and you will hear that tune and KNOW it was made for your song!
I hope I'm not seen as a "Bible Thumper" but I truly believe that if we allow it, God WILL share a blessing in ALL our ups and downs! One of my favorite songs I wrote in my head.....singing it to myself....while driving to be at the hospital the day my grandson was born...."Come Little One" (aka Mickey's Song) was that song! I finished the song....tune, words, and all, just 5 minutes before my grandson was born! What an incredible blessing!!!
Just thoughts and words, just a tune and/or a message, let your songs be a reflection of your LIFE! LIFE becomes YOUR song!