In Writing Tidbit #1, I said that writing for realsies is not something to be done alone. You need to seek feedback on your work in order to help you improve. This means that, yes, others will be critiquing you and pointing out flaws. That can feel very intimidating, raw, and painful when the subject of criticism is something as personal as a story you've written.
I know no better way to respond to this than to say, "Suck it up and do it anyway." While there are exceptions, most people knowledgeable in writing have no interest in hurting the feelings of beginner writers. They like to see others succeed, and they know the value of critiques when looking for ways to improve. So take their comments for what they are: advice to help you get better.
Though it may be hard, try to not be overwhelmed or angry when someone doesn't exactly love your plot or characters. Instead, listen for hints on how to be better and create a story they will love. Do not think of an editor's red marks as an attack on your talent and love of writing, because they're far from it.
Similarly, don't put too much value into a friend or family member's gushing praise of your writing. We can all use a pat on the back, and it's nice of them to review your work. Their opinion that you're the best writer since (insert famous writer's name) may be accurate, but do get some outside, expert opinions before approaching publishers with your listless, grammatically incorrect project. Such a gesture will only make them leery of your work in the future.
When people think of the writing lifestyle, they imagine hours alone, seated at a keyboard, hobbled by a crazed fan. While there may be more than a little truth to this, especially if the writer is a character in a Stephen King novel, the reality is that successful authors don't make it on their own. They need a team of supporters, especially in the early years of their career.
It's difficult to judge one's own strengths and weaknesses in writing. The author is too close, too attached to the words to make a completely accurate self-assessment. Add onto that the difficulty of filtering the readers' expectations and opinions. Bottom line: don't expect to write a best-seller without others' feedback.
While in school, we have teachers who evaluate and help us improve our writing. What critical resources exist beyond graduation?
Don't write in a vacuum. If you intend to publish for a wide audience someday, you need to let a smaller audience help you refine the early, uglier drafts.