This latter risk is for me the equivalent to being bitten by a horde of mosquitoes. We know how small they are and we also know what damage their bites can inflict. There’s the initial bite, then there’s a swelling and then that terrible urge to itch.
The initial bite in writing terms can be as fleeting as the real bite and come in the form of a frown or a shrug of the shoulders or negative comment. I’ve always marked the phrase ‘damning with faint praise’. When it comes from someone you think on your side, it can hurt worse than the stranger’s criticism.
The swelling can take the form of deflation or irritation as your system wants to protect itself from criticism. The urge to itch is that point in the night where you wake up and remember the negative comments.
My advice about showing your writing to family or friends is simple. Don’t.
Don’t show any of your writing, especially at a beginning stage to anybody who a) hasn’t been trained to offer feedback or b) hasn’t in their life written anything they’ve shown to others.
If they’re friends, they may overpraise you because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Underpraise you if they want to stop you making a fool of yourself, as they think, or brush you off by saying they don’t read critically.
If we want to develop as writers, we always have to be brave enough to share with others. The problem is that unless we can find a reliable, professional assessment, it’s hard for us to know how well we’re writing. What makes sense when you write it doesn’t always when you read it back. Even less when others read it.
I’ve preferred to work generally with one mentor at a time. Too many offering multiple choices doesn’t help me. It’s a personal choice who you pick, but you need to feel they’re objective, sympathetic and can offer suggestions to help you think in a different way.
When you find someone who ticks the boxes for you, cherish them and build a relationship. It pays dividends in the end, even if you have to invest money to make it happen.