I liken painting composition in phases similar to movements in the game of chess. Chess has basically three phases, opening moves, development, and end game. The development is generally the longest and most fun. The end game is a little more tense and challenging and editorial. The opening moves are the gestural structure of the proposed composition which can be altered in the process of development.
I discovered the Shaman's Brush theory as a creative way for myself to make general opening moves. As an added bonus, the Shaman's Brush I choose is often a branch of a tree or plant in Nature, and therefore it automatically imparts a natural image reflection of itself. I've also found that I enjoy doing the border first of a composition as it makes a natural frame and has a centering quality which is a modern art device.