If you're seeking help with your writing, there are a number of options. You might think about joining a writers' group - either in real life or online. If you're looking for a local group, this is a good place to start.
Perhaps you'd prefer the sort of detailed feedback you can only get from having your book professionally critiqued. According to this article more and more publishers are insisting that authors submit MSes that have already been through a thorough editing process. One publisher is quoted as saying,
“I cannot purchase a book I need to spend 40 hours editing.”
(That article was written in Canada, but the same could equally apply elsewhere.)
Or maybe you'd prefer to hone your skills in a creative writing course or in a workshop.
If that's your choice and you're not looking for something as heavy-duty as a degree course, there are enough options out there to suit everyone. These are just a few coming up shortly and, before anyone checks to see whether there's a degree of self interest here, I freely admit that these are ones I'm involved with.
Fancy an intensive one day workshop in London or Oxford for £99 including lunch and refreshments? The Writers' Workshop run a range of workshops for people who are just getting started and others for people who are looking for the skills to self-edit their novels. Then there is the one for screen writers, the one for ...
Oh dammit. Do I have to do everything around here? *grumble mutter grump* Why not just go here and see for yourself.
If you're looking for something a bit more hard core, howzabout the mini courses and workshops available at the Festival of Writing in York, 25-27 March? You can book for one day only or for the full weekend. Included in the price is the opportunity to pitch your book directly to agents and publishers or to have your writing assessed by a professional Book Doctor. To see what some of last year's participants feel about the experience, check out this blog post and the comments. One of the commenters describe the Festival as 'like speed dating with a politburo of writing experts'.
Or maybe you're prefer something you can fit in more easily with your own life. In that case, you might consider an online course, like the 6 week self editing course I'm running together with Emma Darwin, beginning in April.
If all this costs more than you can afford and you can't find a local writers' group that fulfills your needs, there are places online where you can talk about all aspects of writing, as well as getting feedback on your own work. It will come as no surprise that I personally recommend WordCloud as the best online community. And it's free to join.
Writing may be a solitary pursuit, but you are not alone unless you choose to be so.