Major brainstorming sessions are part of my writing process, but they don't occur too often. At the beginning, I spend a lot of time thinking about different directions the story could go, until the outline takes shape. I also have a major think when I get stuck and the writing stops flowing. I spend hours considering possibilities for what might happen next.
In Plot and Structure, James Scott Bell suggests writers have a regular time that's just for generating ideas. Interesting.
I can see how it might help me to move beyond the obvious and find the unique. What's hard would be to make myself take the time, when I already feel that I don't have enough time for writing. But for the next few weeks I'm going to try it: just take 15 minutes once a week and brainstorm about my next novel. I'll get back to you about whether it's useful or not.
How often do you just brainstorm ideas?