Short story writers/poets (I believe) are more susceptible to this than, say, novelists. They publish a few pieces, maybe receive a kind note or two, possibly a bit of compensation. They write and publish a bit more. Then, nothing. Oh, it’s not that the acceptances stop or writer’s block sets in. What they accomplish, it seems, never takes them to the next level.
The next level could be different for certain writers. One may want to be accepted by a higher tier of literary magazines but it never occurs. Another could be waiting on a letter from an agent because he/she was published in Awesomely Prestigious Journal. Plateaus don’t even have to do with publishing, they can be as simple as feeling your craft hasn’t improved since the Carter Administration.
So, how does one fight this? Well, if someone practices his/her craft frequently, the perception of it not advancing is almost certainly incorrect so it is the attitude that must change. As for the career/publishing end of it, I’m less sure. It could be another case of perception malfunction or it could be the truth.
What if it is the truth that your career has stalled? Well, easy. Go through it. No one said it was going to be a smooth ride, they just forgot to mention that, with ups and downs, there are periods of standing still. Or, at least, times where you think you’re standing still. You may just be going so fast, everything else appears frozen.
Have you ever had times where you felt nothing was happening? How did it “start” again?