There's a saying in the music business that you have your whole life to record your first album, and only three months to make your second. When you're an "American Idol" finalist, that doesn't apply. After placing second in the reality competition in May 2011, Lauren Alaina immediately hit the road with the rest of her competitors and got straight to work on her debut album, Wildflower, which was released that October. Now, the 18-year-old is hard at work on her followup and taking her time to make it perfect.

"I've completed four songs at this point and it's a long process," Lauren tells The Boot. "The first album didn't take long at all because I was rushed and I had to get it out, because it was right after 'Idol.' This album, I get to take my time. I went in and recorded those songs, but there's no guarantee they'll make the album. But it's a really cool process and you learn a lot about yourself in the studio. The first time was so fast that I didn't really get to take it all in. Now I can relax and calm down and focus on what I'm doing."

And by "a long process," the Georgia native means she's already spent nearly nine months on it. "I've been listening to music since the summer time," she explains. "People have sent me songs, I've been writing songs. It's a really complex situation, because you have to sit down for hours at the label ... I spent two days there, and I probably listened to hundreds of songs. I randomly get songs sent to me, too."

Lauren has also been writing songs, finding inspiration in lots of places, including her current relationship with her "really great" boyfriend. "I've been writing songs about him," she says. "I've been writing songs about my childhood and the way I was raised. Whatever is inspiring me that day, whether it's my boyfriend or ex-boyfriends that I really don't even care about anymore, or my mom and dad or my grandfather or grandmother, who passed away. It really depends on how I'm feeling that day and what mood I'm in."

Deciding which of those songs to record is the most important part of the process. "It's hard," Lauren admits. "There are so many great writers in Nashville trying to be on your album and all the songs are great, but you have to pick the ones that speak to you the best, and describe you as an artist the best. Also, I've gotten to write with so many incredible writers in Nashville -- the best of the best -- and you have to pick the best song, whether it's mine or someone else's. It sounds like so much work, but I love it. It's a good job."

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