Find someone you trust with everything and listen to the feedback. Listen carefully. It may be what you hoped for. It may not be. Don't seek feedback until you are ready.
I have never had that problem, if I wrote it I share it.
I have a book partly filled with poems I wrote nearly 40 years ago and which I have shared with people a bit at a time. It's my belief that an artist or writer cannot begin to grow until they begin sharing their work with others. It also teaches you (hopefully) to grow a thick skin against criticism which is all part of being an artist regardless of the media within you which you decide to express yourself.
Well my wife made me throw mine away! And then when she saw that I was acutely making money off of it, then she said it was my fault for throwing them away. so what I recommend is hide them, go back every so often and read them, there might be something in them you want someone to hear in another story your working on. And remember when your husband, wife, or significant other tells you there tired of the paper, no your hidden stash is in danger!
Read it again - see if you think it is any good. Many times it isn't - sorry!!!
Never, ever throw them out. Sometimes, you'll find buried treasures that you can use part of. I have a friend who is a poet and was in college during the Vietnam War. During 9/11, she pulled out some of those decades-old poems and it was amazing to see how appropriate the content was for today's world.
If nothing else, by seeing the old stuff you'll be able to see how far you've come. And if you turn out to be this generation's Faulkner, just think about how much your early scribblings would be worth to collectors a hundred years from now.
Read them yourself. You will be amazed by how much emotion you can feel from the writing all those years ago. And if there are things you want to change, then do it. No writing should ever be forgotten.
I think this is up to the individual. I have the first novel I ever wrote, at age 13, and it's one of my treasured possessions. However, I've thrown away old copies of one book that I spent three years on. I have the first short story I ever wrote in grad school--the hard copy with comments from my prof and versions transcribed onto the computer. Someday I hope to sell it.
Sometimes stories won't let you go, even the ones that don't sell.
I still have the very first thing that I wrote and got recognition for. In my defense, I was six, in Senior Infants, and it was basically a (very) short version of Snow White! Another thing I still have is the first ever, completed story I wrote. I spent two years writing it in fifth and sixth class. I looked over it a few weeks ago and I can see how different my writing is now. In the space of a year and a half my creative writing has definately matured. I still have a few fluffs now and then, but how doesn't? My advice? Read it again. See if it can be edited into something that feels right and if it does, go for it! If you like it, show it to someone. It could be the next big thing!
Find a close friend, who's opinion you trust, have them read it and give you honest feedback. Then find a complete stranger and have them read it. If the two match up, then you'll know you can trust your friend to give you honest feedback.
But most importantly, disregard what everyone says, and dance to your own beat. We live in a make it new world, and sometimes our own worst enemy happens to be the person we see in the mirror. Invent an alter ego who has confidence, go out and get the world's opinion on your work.
Join a writers' group, like our Stonepile Writers in Dahlonega, Georgia, and begin to share those old writings. What do you have to lose? Ridicule is unlikely, and even if it occurs, it is still a learning experience. And maybe you will be the next Hemingway....
I’d look at them and see if they’re any good. Compare them to your original writing. If you like the idea and it’s not up to par with what you’re writing now, rewrite it. If you’ve been afraid to show them to people, they most likely belong in the box they’re in. But, like I say; if you’re in love with a story enough, you’ll always find a way to make it better. I rewrote a whole novel for this reason.
Get them out! Polish them up, start submitting online and see what kind of feedback you get. If you're really serious about getting your writing out there for public view, that's the only way to do it. Jump right in with both feet and no trepidation! It's a fun and at the same time frustrating business, but I wouldn't do anything else.
I subscribe to a service that alerts me when magazines, publishers, agents and any kind of publication are accepting new submissions. I've gotten a lot of great contacts through that and don't even have to leave my computer or spend a lot of time rummaging through the directories around the world to get in touch.
Read them again and take the ones you enjoy and share them! If we like what we write it follows someone else would enjoy them too!
What do you have to lose?
File them or dump them. Writing requires an ongoing process of growth and old material that you didn't think enough of to publish in the past is probably not going to be adequate for you now if you have grown. Some poems I wrote I look back on and see value in. Most essays are dated and are simply not pertinent other than to see if predictions were accurate.