There is often a strained relation between having ambition for your creative work so you can achieve some recognisable 'success', and the process of just simply making the work, the free creative process. This can be a counter productive struggle, as it can force the work to stagnate and become less creatively instinctive.
For example, when an artist has an exhibition it can bring to conclusion a series of works: but this conclusion is not a natural one as it is conditioned by the exhibiting date, which is an external control upon the creative process. This can naturally produce a heightened focus and a more intense period of work. But what happens after? Well, most likely there is a drop, a lull, a down period and some required recharging will be needed.
Surfing is a good metaphor for artistic work: you catch ‘waves’, ride the highs and then there is a lull until the next wave comes along...but will you catch it? It is at such times that one needs to remember the natural beginnings of any creative work - subtle things you notice, things you think about that are interwoven into everyday awareness. It is crucial at these times to not over complicate matters, and be open to recognise the small springs, the streams that grow into creative rivers. It is important to pursue work without a fear of failure, whilst avoiding a self imposed pressure to ‘succeed’. Such a weight of expectation to live up to previous work will only inhibit curiosity, experimentation, and the necessary risk taking.
An artist can have hundreds of ideas, but just a small percentage may make it through to resolution. So no matter how successful you might be at being published or exhibiting work, the next phase always starts at the beginning of a new spring, and once located, the development needs time to evolve and grow naturally without external pressures. Take care of the springs, the small streams and they will take care of you.