Way back in the day, when I first started and had delusions of adequacy as a cartoonist, I would listen to music. When I switched to a career as a writer, I would try to listen to music, but if the songs had lyrics they would get in the way of the words I was trying to write. So I switched to listening to purely instrumental pieces.
Most of the time, the lyrics are kind of like my secret messages to my friends or my boyfriend or my mom or my dad. I would never tell them that these songs are about them or which specific lyric is about somebody. Often, when I sit down to write a lyric, it is in the heat of the moment, and something has just happened.
I have a tape recorder, and I just sing into it. I like to write that way. Sometimes I'll just get melodic ideas, and then I'll go home and sit down and add the lyrics. Or sometimes I'll get a lyric idea that I love. Usually it's pretty combined. Usually I get some kind of a lyrical concept and a melody and work with that.
I'm totally into Taylor Swift. I think she has super-clever lyrics, and I love that she writes her own music. Some of the themes she writes about are stuff I wish was there for me when I was in high school, and I'm so happy she really cares about her female fans. She's not catering to a male audience and is writing music for other girls.