I've been fortunate to interview songwriters who achieved considerable success in the 1980s and beyond: Chris Difford (Squeeze), Neil Finn (Crowded House), Cy Curnin (The Fixx), Andy McCluskey (OMD). I figure all are worth listening to when they discuss the work ethic of the songwriter. That's the one common element of their songwriting process: they write all the time. The idea of waiting for the muse is a foreign concept, because writing is something you have to work at.
You can add Jim Kerr of Simple Minds that list. Kerr writes every day in his journal, first thing in the morning. It's often not even a song. As he says, "Creativity is a muscle that needs to be flexed." Kerr is also hypersensitive to his environment, both visually and aurally. It's not a conscious mining for song ideas, just an awareness so he can keep the well of ideas stocked. He told me that if we went to the bar for a beer, half of his attention would be on our conversation, the other half on others' conversations. And when he does write, he's a simple man: all he needs is good light. But it has to be a halogen bulb.
Read my interview with Jim Kerr of Simple Minds after the video for "Honest Town," off their new album Big Music. Of course, for the three people in the world who haven't heard "Don't You (Forget About Me)," you can watch the video here.