I wrote my first novel starting at the age of fifteen, finishing the first draft at the age of eighteen. I showed it to a few friends. The ones who hung out with me more said it was pretty good, but the most knowledgeable one said it was terrible. He was right (the way he said it could’ve gone better, but that’s a different story). He proceeded to give me a lot of good advice about how to get better. He clearly had good intentions, but what I took from the way he gave me that advice was something like “If I want to be writer, I need to do this and this and this and this. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, and I’m probably not up to the task.” To be clear, that isn’t really what he said. That’s just what I heard.
Because of this, I thought maybe I’d write a little as a hobby, but didn’t take it seriously for a while because I didn’t think I had what it took to be a real writer. Several years later, when I started taking my writing more seriously, I started doing what he said I needed to do to get better. The primary parts of this were finding a critique group and reading the two books he told me to read: The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler and Tricks and Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. (Both are very good books, but Swain’s attitude and style was a bit annoying.)
At this point, I’ve written several novels (as first drafts) and I’ve rewritten and revised a couple of them. I have nothing published yet, but I have one novel that I consider to be ready to show publishers and another I think could be there with another layer of revising. The story I’ve been writing now is set in (almost) the same world as my very first novel. Both involve the main character going from a somewhat mundane modern setting to a fantasy world, although otherwise my new story has very little to do with my original story.
The 2 morals of this post: 1) The first draft of your first story is going to be very bad, but don’t throw it away. You may be able to either rewrite it or at least use something from it later. If nothing else, you can look at it in a few years and see how much you’ve improved since then. 2) People need both encouragement and good advice. One without the other isn’t going to be enough and could end up doing harm instead of good.