I like to set up a bunch of beadwork projects at once. Typically, when I can't fit any more new treasures in my bead bin, I take a day for set up. This involves moving a bunch of cabochons and beads around on my bead table, until things click together. Sometimes, the connection is made through color. Sometimes, there's a story I want to tell through the beads. Sometimes, I see an image in my head that I want to recreate.
Once I have a bunch of designs that I like, I begin to match patterns to the design. After tracing the patterns onto felt, I begin to glue pieces. I have a pretty good sense of spatial design, so I rarely measure placements.
Maybe that's why I love bead embroidery so much. It sets my creativity free. I can even color outside the lines, if I choose. I don't have to follow a pattern. Love that.