Starting to write a novel is a bit like entering a maze after you've circled the perimeter for a while looking for the starting point. Then once you're inside, like every maze, there are several directions which you can take--each leading to completely different stories. Some of those stories will come to dead ends. Some may get you to the finish with a little cheating. But ultimately there is one path you want to take and its important to know you're choosing the right one from the beginning.
When I sat down to start writing my new manuscript the other day, I found myself running into a series of walls. I wrote one opening page that I thought was pretty good--too good. It started to feel really familiar. Then I looked at my copy of Life is But a Dream and found the two openings to be very similar. So I had to scratch that and figure out a new way in. It took a day of rethinking, but I found another course though the story. Thankfully, I feel like I'm on track now.