Sure everyone knows I have a relatively large studio. What you don't know is how I write music - often from beginning to end without touching the mics! I write little ditties here and there, right now I work mainly doing live stuff outside of the studio and restoring old recordings. However that isn't what I want to do with my life - and I don't want to record other musicians, either. You all know as well as I do that musicians have no money. There's always one more piece of gear that they want...
What I'd like to do full time is write music for film, television, video games, and commercials. I place a few songs a month but it's not really my bread and butter. I'm really good at restoring audio and that's what I'm known for... so until I get more bites on my writing, I'll be doing that.
I write 1 or 2 tracks a day, monday to friday just to build my portfolio. My fiance has fitness classes every morning, so before she goes she gives me a genre. Sometimes it's vague, like Reggae. Sometimes she'll tell me to write the theme for a cartoon. Sometimes it leaves me with a lot of freedom, sometimes she's very specific - just last week she told me to write a backing track for a war movie's battle scene. There are just so many directions I can go with that. I get tossed out of my comfort zone regularely... techno, industrial stuff for example. I have a roland midi guitar so that helps alot.
So back on track, what happens during my writing process? Well I get an idea in my head first. Sometimes I hum it, sometimes it's a beat I bang out on the drums, sometimes I get inspiration on the guitar or bass. Often my end result is not at all close to the original idea.
Once I get my idea, I fire up Protools and make a basic session - usually a few audio tracks, a few midis, a reverb and delay fx return, a software sampler [lately I've been using digidesin's Xpand a lot]. For my direct recording I use a Marshall JMP-1, an Art SGX2000, or Line6 Pod Farm software. I have digidesign's Eleven but it's a resource hog and though it sounds better than Pod Farm it's not as "fun" to use. Pod farm has a great interface.
I mix as I go, usually playing on a click track. I do the percussion last - I find doing it that way lets me fill in any spots that might need it. It's not always drums... with a sampler and midi it can be anything from tambourines to tablas. Sometimes it is drums with some extras on the side, sometimes I steer clear of regular percussion alogether and make my beats using muted harp notes in the key of the song, or wooden blocks with a crazy delay.
At the end of the day [actually, the hour - I write each one in an hour or less... gotta keep myself on my toes] my tracks are professional sounding and ready to go. Of course when I write for a client I put more into it - my demo reel tracks are 1-2 minutes long. And mostly I do it with the software that came with my DAW. The clients I do get have never asked for anything of higher quality, or real drums, or any of that stuff.
One thing to note is that I write my music using the software that came with my daw - a soft synth and a guitar amp simulator. I suggest you give it a try, at least for writing. I know many people with nice setups that feel the need to use everything every time! When I'm writing I like to have everything ready to go real quick, so I can lay my ideas down. When I record the good copies is when the mics come out.