Each tune is different, but the following is more or less the process for me.
Right now, there are at least 10 tunes in varied stages of completion that I'm working on. Some of them won't make it to publication and others are planned for release over the following six months. 95% of my tunes start out as chord progressions on an acoustic guitar with me humming the melody over it.
I then capture the chord progression and song structure on iReal Pro. This gives me a simple, limited but on-the-fly way to create a simple backing track that I can speed up, change the groove / style and even change the key. The song will usually remain in this format for up to a few months. Here is where I fine-tune the melody or lyrics, compare bpm's, perhaps mute the bass so I can write my own bass line, etc. All-in-all, in this stage I make the big-picture changes - with minimal technical effort.
By the time I open the DAW, I am already done composing. The chord progressions, the melody, lyrics, song structure or form, BPM, bass line - everything is already set.
I start my Garageband session by setting the BPM, and Key of the song. You want to get that right at the start.
Knowing my BPM and groove puts me in a position to pull up a preset drumming pattern. This does not have to be the perfect drums. I will have plenty of opportunity to improve on it later.
After this I lay down the chords using my 61-key midi controller or with my ipad using Logic Remote. I literally just lay down / sustain the chords. I'm not trying to comp or groove in any way. My piano skills are rather limited anyway.
[An awesome app that allows me, among other things to programme the chords on a strip and play it by simply pressing the aptly named strip. SO if chords are challenging or changing too fast, I use this.]
Next, I record the bass line using the Carbon 61 keyboard as well as the melody in a similar fashion. So now I have laid down all the essential tracks in midi [Bass, drums, chords/harmony, Melody] - which is essentially my click-track.
I do it all in midi first, because midi offers a lot more freedom to manipulate and edit your notes. Everything is cleaner. Another benefit is that I can print a score off the midi tracks. Now I am in a position to share the basic concept of the song accompanied by a score with collaborators or registration bodies, etc.
Now I'd start "tracking for real"....
@V8 how much did working in a DAW change the creative idea's you had?
The DAW does not really influence my ideas that much. I think it is because up till now my ideas are complete by the time I open a DAW session. Perhaps because I am largely still ignorant on all its capabilities. I keep it simple cos I have to.