Of course, when you see me at the very beginning, I've finished the carving. But when I start talking, about preparation and making the model etc, I hadn't begun! - the swan was a figment of my imagination.
As all journeys, you have to start somewhere, usually at the beginning. But in this case that doesn't mean starting with the carving tools, or the wood. You start by thinking about your swan and visualising what it will look like: what direction you are travelling in.
For this preliminary stage you'll need pictures and - I can't emphasise how useful this is - to make a model. It's not a gallery model, it's a 3D sketch that will help you get going in many ways. As soon as you are past the 'point of recognition', you'll discard it. By the end you'll see I made 3 clay models.
Carving this swan was a bit of a journey, developing and changing things as I went along. So you can see that my first clay model doesn't have the 'lift' with which I ended up. And that's what I expect will happen to you as well. Don't copy me, or my model; you may well see things differently. Think of it as your own exoploration or journey and what I'm doing here is a guide and general approach.
Also look at the Blog here: What's with Clay Modelling?