Since I've started writing, I've found the refinement process to be incredibly enjoyable. Something about looking back and seeing the work and effort put in is just kind of motivational.
When I re-read the literal first story I wrote on my own free will, I almost cried in embarrassment. Fortunately, re-reading the previous versions of this novel only ended with me cringing in embarrassment.
I'd describe this process of improving my writing as a cycle of reading. I read other stories, and for those that I like, I also try to pick apart what makes them enjoyable. When I go write my own, I try to incorporate it and see if it works. I also compare my own writing to theirs and go like, "See that really nice house over there? We're going to steal their blueprints and parts of it to make something nicer."
I keep poking things around and seeing how they end up. Trial and error. If it doesn't work, kick down the sandcastle and try it again. So far that's lead to a stagnating storyline, but (hopefully) there's a visible growth in the actual quality of the storytelling.
As much as I'm happy with myself, there's still going to be an internal bias with how well I'm actually doing. I'm leaving both the originals and their revisions so if you want to compare them, you can.
If there's anything new you like or dislike, let me know!