How do programmers approach a new project

It's perfectly normal to be hit by the "blank paper" syndrome.

You have a great project in mind, which looks fantastic, but when you sit down at the desk trying to do something, you suddenly block and are not able to do anything. Then you open up solitaire and make a new record.

You actually need to start doing something related to the project, so that you feel like it's born.

You may not want to write code immediately. You can start by writing what your project actually must do, or you would like it to do. Take a pen and paper and start writing. You can start from the details or from a bigger picture. Try both, see what is best.

You can try to define the functionalities of the project, the different parts, how those parts communicate between them. I feel myself comfortable with post-it, they are fun and you can change them as you progress. Let them follow your mind and ideas.

Or maybe you can start prototype some function or classes. You can use whatever language you prefer for this, even one that doesn't exist and you just invented.

After some time you will have something to work on, and your project will be not only on your mind. You actually did something.

When you feel comfortable to actually start the development process, it's time for a careful planning, documenting, prototyping, gathering of all required technologies and software, and so on.

But don't start until you actually feel it's the right time!