I usually approach writing like advanced carpentry. I picture myself at a work bench, patiently whittling and carving, going very slowly and laboring over a difficult point.
Much of my collaboration has been done over the Internet, asynchronously. I give a lyric to someone, and get back some musical ideas – I can think about them, and give considered feedback, or can do some rewriting.
Lately I’ve been “in the room” with another person, and you have to be “on” – you have to be in the zone, at the same time as other people are in the zone, and hopefully you’re in the *same* zone. Most of these times have started with a “finished” lyric – and working from there, making changes to it.
Last week I went to my first group songwriting session, where four people tried to write a song from scratch. You have to think fast and think out loud, and rush your thinking processes. It’s different, it’s instructive, but it’s not my favorite way to write. We did come up with something but I doubt it’s good as any one of us might have written on our own. It’s true, many people can have those eureka moments “in the room” but it may not be the best environment for my own set of muses…