How do you know who to trust with your writing, especially early drafts and idea bouncing.
Yikes. This is such a process of trial and error. It's like those middle school and junior high dances where everyone's awkwardly hugging the edges of the room afraid to ask anyone to dance for fear of rejection or ridicule. Figuring out who you can trust with your well being as well as your heart is part of growing up as a human being. Figuring out who to trust with your writing is part of growing as a writer. And yes. The process is about as painful.
There's so much to learn.What's acceptable behavior. What isn't. What builds you up. What tears you down. That last is really hard because what's soul-killing to one writer will be nourishing for another. I will say this, though. When you find someone you can trust to give you the unvarnished truth about your work in a kind, constructive way, that person will be worth their weight in gold. It took me three dysfunctional groups before I fell by accident into one that taught me not only how to critique, it taught me how to take critique. The authors who welcomed me into that group had hundreds (not kidding) of books pubbed between them. I had zero, and I was still several years away from selling anything. These ladies ripped my manuscript to shreds. It would have been demoralizing except for the fact that they also painstakingly explained what was wrong and how I could fix it. Fantastic learning experience. Still, I could see where it might have been crushing had it come any earlier in my development.
I'll own up to mistakes made along the way, too. There were groups I joined simply because I could. They weren't a good match. Like trying to figure out dating, there's just no way to get out of it without hurting someone else or being hurt yourself. It's part of learning who your matches are. All you can do is try. And then try again. I'm lucky. Persistence paid off in spades. I have so many great critique and beta reading options - people writing and reading in my genre who know the market I'm writing for. Not a one of them is afraid to pull a punch because I'm tougher now. As my confidence has grown and as my trust in my crit readers has likewise grown, I want the bandages ripped off my story wounds. No candy coating. I know these people have my back and want my story to be the best it can be. So I want to get on with making my story better.
It took years to get here. It took some tears. I wish there was a formula for instantly detecting trustworthiness I could offer you. But I'm afraid this is all one grand experiment. Pretty much like the rest of life.