Completing your manuscript is the next step in becoming a published author.
You have determined that you are a writer and you have found a subject about which you are passionate. You sat down, took up pen and began to write. Your manuscript has begun.
All you need do now is to write. Most of the difficulties are behind you. Or are they?
Two problems immediately come to mind. First, you do not know how lengthy your manuscript will be or how long it will take to finish which can be intimidating, and second, but certainly not of any lesser importance, are distractions.
The first problem is really not really a problem at all. You love what you are doing. It is just that, sometimes, when a character takes off on an expected journey all its own, you cannot see where your story is going or how it will get back to its main plot point.
Do not let this strange territory scare you. Revel in it. Somewhere down deep, your psyche has already worked out how this thread will weave its way through the story, back to where you need it to be. Your story will be richer and all the better for it.
The second problem of distractions is the more serious of the two. Just like the TV, and that Chunky Monkey ice cream in the freezer, stood in the way of you beginning your manuscript, there is now a fresh troop of elfish distractions hiding in wait to delay you. Some are obvious but some more discrete.
A distraction is anything that gets between you and your writing. We need reminders to remind us not to get distracted.
Most of us face this dilemma. I suppose there are some disciplined individuals who do not have this problem but I am not one. The problem of distractions is so common as to be a frequent topic of discussion in forums. Here is link to a discussion on this very point by a woman with kids and a full time job and how she deals with distractions.
Few of us are blessed with enough free time to just sit and write. It is imperative that you carve out time for yourself to write. You will note that some authors of renown (Steinbeck and Salinger to name just two) retreated to quiet cabins so as to not be disturbed. A professor I know, married with a young son, gets up at 5AM every day to write before he heads out to teach. Another author wrote one of his books in four months during his lunch hour. You must do what you have to do to write.
And, if you do, your manuscript will eventually be completed. Watch out for the temptation to start patting yourself on the back as your manuscript nears completion (another distraction.) It is not done until it is done.
Then again, it is never really done until it is published. You will find yourself tinkering with the “finished” product ad infinitum, tweaking it here and there. I speak from experience. I found myself adding new ideas and altering sentence structures even as I was correcting my manuscript using my copy editors recommendations.