Last year experienced cowriting for the first time and really loved it (Surge on Smith). I thought I was going to be cowriting in Indiana on this last trip, but it ended up being something else -- more like assisting a birth. I joke about being a songwriting dula, but it's a pretty apt description. Here's what happened:
I first met with the songwriter for 3 or 4 hours helping him clarify what he really wants to say and explore through song, and what sort of songwriting would work best for this. Then we picked one of the themes and started writing. From there I threw out some chords and a line from time to time, but mainly just encouraged him and when he hit blocks helped him go over or around them.
It did feel a bit like a way scaled-down version of what I imagine prepping the would-be mother about birth would be like, followed by helping them through it (they do the real work, but they need the help -- maybe the metaphor breaks down a bit since you can't really stop mid-birth with a human baby and people do it with songs all the time), and then celebrating the "kid", messy and red-faced as it may be once it's over. (I suppose rewrites are like baths and cutting the cord, and all the other stuff that reveals the stunning reality that is under all that writhing, crying mess).
A lot of it came down to "you just got to get this stuff out." Not out into the world, just out of your own soul. Many of the songs you have push out don't need to be shared beyond a few friends -- but you never get to the ones more people need to hear if you don't write the ones that are stuck in the birth canal.
A bit of wider application for those of you who aren't writers: there may be things in your life you just plain need to do, things which may require some assistance to get pushed out of the birth canal. You may not want to do them. It's possible you procrastinate or ignore them, even though it hurts. There are many reasons for this. Maybe you're not very skilled at doing these things. Maybe they don't fit your image of yourself (or other peoples' image of you). Maybe it is just because doing something creative or meaningful is hard work and requires the use of your heart, which is a subtle, unpredictable and vulnerable organ.
Examples of this sort of thing that might get "stuck in the birth canal": Hard conversations with loved ones or coworkers, spiritual growth practices, weight loss, balancing the budget, taking a day off, etc.