It took me a little while to realize this, but prepping canvas has always been a great way for me to ease myself into a new series.
Beginning a new artwork series can be a nebulous cloud of anxiety and excitement: What will I do and how on earth will I do it ? The options are endless and seem to stretch out before me in an endless tirade. It’s overwhelming to say the least, and in this state it's quite common that I'll find many make-work tasks in the studio, or waste time looking for guidance from the internet gods.
How do other artists' do it? One of the best steps that I have uncovered to shaking myself out of pre-series paralysis is actually quite simple. In a word: prep-work. However it is that you like to prepare your surface or medium, in order for your prep-work to be effective in getting your ideas flowing it should be a simple, rhythmic and methodical task. Oh and, certainly, the task that you choose should have a finishing point. Once I get "into" my task I have been known to keep prepping past the point of necessity, so I'd advise that you start out with a mild plan of action. For example, if you are gesso-ing canvas, set a limit to the maximum amount of layers of gesso applied. The details of my own personal nerve-calming, routine is stretch the canvas, seal it with PVA size and then begin layers of gesso.
The slightly mindless cycle of this routine gets my hands working, and puts them in contact with the pre-destined surfaces. As I work, I become accustomed to the scale of the surface and it's dimensions as well as the resisting tension of the brush against the surface. During this time my mind starts to envision the colours and shapes to come and the ideas flow like fine wine.
Just remember that whatever your prep method is, you may find that the ideas come a little easier when the task is methodical and requires little thought.
Allow your mind to wander and who knows what wonderful creations will evolve!