The red pen comes out
You kill your darlings.
My first draft is almost done. I’m going to give it one last readthrough before I begin the editing phase. Editing is always the hardest part of any writing project. You take your (literal or metaphorical) red pen and you slash away mercilessly. Comments crowd the margins. Entire scenes fall before the power of the red pen.
Then you begin incorporating those edits. The red marks fade from the page as your manuscript heals. The lost words are forgotten, and their siblings crowd in to fill in the gaps. Sometimes new words are added to take their place, and sometimes the gaps simply fade away into memory.
It’s frustrating, but also cathartic. With each pass of the red pen, your manuscript improves until there comes a point when the red pen never touches the page again. When it passes over the manuscript and leaves it unblemished.
And then you are done.