Insert Effect Routing

I have two questions:

  1. I have a preamp/compressor channel strip and I want to use it both as an external effect and as an input for recording. When I set it up as an external effect, I’m not allowed to select its input in the VST Connections - Inputs area. Vice vera happens when I first set it up as an input (it disconnects it as an external effect). How can I get around this?

  2. How do you easily record external INSERT FX? There’s no where to select it as an input/recording source. The only thing I can think of is to add an FX channel like it’s a Send effect, but select the external insert effect, then record that back onto whichever track via selecting the FX on the input on a separate track.

I guess the method I just mentioned (set up an FX channel like it’s a Send effect but it’s actually an insert) can solve both problems. That way, I can use the ‘Send’ under a track at 0DB to send the entire signal, then select the FX as an input for recording the effected track back. Plus, I could select the FX track as an input and record directly from it (without actually sending anything to it, only with a mic) since it’s a preamp.

I’m not used to working that way but I guess if it works, it works. Is there any easier way to do this?