Having an epiphany about a piece of writing can be a great thing. You could be struggling to figure something out and then out of nowhere the solution hits you. It could be something you never expected, and it could require a lot of work. But if you keep your mind open and let the ideas come to you, and you put in that hard work, you may just be able to figure it all out.
One of the hardest parts about editing is cutting parts from your previous drafts. When you first write something, it can seem so perfect that you think there's no way you'd ever get rid of it. But as time goes on and you get away from that first draft high, you're able to see things more clearly. If you spend enough time with your story, you'll know what's working and what isn't, what needs to be rewritten and what needs to be cut completely.
I've been with my story for over 4 years now so I pretty much know everything that needs to be fixed. Figuring out how to fix it is another thing entirely. Every solution isn't going to come to you right away. You may need to think about it for hours and hours, going over every possibility until you figure it out. If that doesn't work, you let the idea rest for a while, and if you're lucky the solution will just come to you out of nowhere (for me that means someplace inconvenient like in the shower, or when you're trying to sleep...).
Keeping an open mind is very important when letting the ideas happen. I'm on my third draft now, but I don't think my mind was very open when writing the second draft. I basically just wanted to make the first draft better, but keep everything exactly the same. Sure, I rearranged a few scenes, added some needed background info on a character, but there weren't a lot of major changes, just a lot of rewriting. For some parts, this can work. Maybe just rewriting will fix the problem. But this isn't going to work for an entire draft. Big changes usually need to happen, and if you're not open to them, you'll never be able to come up with those solutions.
I realized yesterday that cutting an entire chapter from the beginning of my book would help out a lot. It was something I'd never considered before. But it was a chapter that I didn't know how to rewrite, and I felt like it slowed the story down a bit. Then I realized any important information from this chapter could be moved to the last scene from the chapter before. It's going to be tricky finding the balance of what information to put where, but once I get it all done and that chapter is gone, I think the story will flow a lot better.
If my mind was still closed off when it comes to editing, I never would have made this realization. If you edit thinking that everything is perfect, or that all of the parts of your story need to be there, you may never be able to actually step back and see what's wrong with it, and what parts aren't even needed.
Do you have trouble keeping an open mind while editing? Ever made any unexpected edits?