The Living Force
actually doing it, practicing it, and developing your taste and the soul of your work is where it's at, IMO
I agree with Luc, I think it may also stem, in some instances from the perfection program, it's easy to get lost in it isn't good enough, I need to edit it more etc etc by just doing it, it helps to overcome it IMO.
As far as the editing goes, it really depends on your tastes and what you are trying to do with the image. I, for instance, like the hyperreal, for me it works, because looking at the image immediately tells the viewer this is a representation, it's not real, and maybe it stems from when I was doing fashion photography and all the models wanted to look perfect, so I did the air brushing etc but also edited the image so as to show that this a representation, this is not a "real" person.
As far as editing software goes, I use lightroom and photoshop, but they are expensive. I believe there is a free program called gimp which does a pretty good job, but it depends on what you're trying to do with the image.
looking forward to seeing more of your work 3DStudent :)