For most of us self-taught photographers, there is a considerable learning curve as we begin to learn how to take "good" pictures. We normally progress a little at a time as we learn about exposure, light, composition, and increase our knowledge of behavior whether that be of people or animals, depending on our favored subject. We progress to taking "good" pictures that others do occasionally admire. This often leads to a plateau of competence. We continue taking "good" pictures and there is gradual, slight improvement as we learn more. But then, for some, there is a giant leap. All at once the pictures go for "good" to soaring to a whole new level.
How fast we go through the process is highly variable with each individual and their circumstances. There are some who progress in a matter of a year or two; others take many years; and, of course, some never make the transition.
Now, I do want to make something clear here. I am talking about self-taught photographers. Whether that means reading photography how-to books, watching YouTube videos, or just shooting and shooting pictures. There is a different curve for those who have more formal training. With formal photography education, there are certain steps that are taken and it naturally includes the factor that allows photographers to go to the next level of success. Success being defined as taking exceptional photos.