This thread on homerecording.com has some good advice on finding inspiration to finish writing a song.
I think you’re stuck on a mental fixation. Perhaps the anxiety of creating a good song is getting in your way. The difference between a veteran songwriter and begining songwriter is that the veteran has developed his own system which he can recall at anytime.
Recording distorted vocals (a la The Strokes and The Hives) is an artform:
I find that when people ask for a distorted vocal, they tend to react most positively when I roll off a lot of high and low end with EQ and then add minimal distortion. I think often what they’re really asking for is limited badwithdh/frequency response and not as much fuzz – which can exagerate certain mid frequencies giving it a similar frequency curve to tha HP/LP’d signal.
For (much) more detail on The Strokes sound, see this lengthy interview with their producer, Raphael Gordon:
So was it just the sound of Raphael’s basement that made The Modern Age sound the way it did? “There were a lot of elements,” admits Raphael. “There was the sound of The Strokes, which can stand up on its own; there was the way that I think about sound and what I consider to be important in a recording; and then there was the basement configuration, not only for the sound of a band playing together in a small room that isn’t covered with cosy wood and sound baffles. It had brick and concrete, with some home-made baffles here and there.
Have you ever needed to record a mandolion?
I like to point a small dia condenser at the bridge from above the instrument near where the players right ear would be if they leaned right over the instrument to hear it better (as many do).
(We could have used this advice years ago, when recording the Time & Whiskey track Galway. Rather than properly miking the mandolin, we just ran the pickup straight into the board. So of course it sounds nothing like a mandolin.)