I compare editing to creating a sculpture out of stone. You have a huge chunk of material that you need to form into a work of art. The only way to start is by chipping away what you don't need. It's not easy and it's often messy, but in the end you can have something to be proud of.
My latest urban fantasy novel took me about a month to write the first draft. I have been editing it for about five months. There are eight drafts, each one has been read and worked on a minimum of three times. I have printed it out about three times and read it on my tablet twice. There are days where I'm so sick of reading it that I want to burn it. I keep leaving offerings for the editing elves to finish it off, but they haven't come yet.
Critique partners and beta readers are a huge part of the process. They give you a fresh perspective on your work because after you've read it twenty times there's no way to objectively look at it. They often see things that you overlooked. What I love is the different reactions they have as well.
I have a love-hate relationship with editing. I love working on the story to make it shine. During editing is where you can fill in the finer details and bring out the aspects of your characters to make them come alive.
It's also a long, drawn out stage that feels never ending. I get frustrated because sometimes it seems like I'm not getting anywhere. When I'm writing, there's progress that I can see. During editing, you're analyzing everything to death. It takes many passes to get a novel to where it needs to be because with each pass you're often looking at different things. One pass could be character arcs, another world building, another sub-plots.
There are times when you think you are done. Maybe you start querying the manuscript, maybe you've passed it onto someone else to read. Then you realize your not done, there's more work to do. Back to the editing cave you go.
No work is ever perfect. It can be hard to know when it's time to stop editing. There comes a time where a writer is just changing things for the sake of changing things. This is when it's time to pass it on to someone else (a beta reader or critique partner) or send it into the world, whether querying, to your agent/editor, or publish.
I'm feeling good about my latest round of edits. My urban fantasy manuscript is almost ready to fly.