Author has written 3 stories for Yu Yu Hakusho, Star Wars, and Dynasty Warriors.
Years ago, I wrote fan fiction for a number of reasons. It was a release of creative energies and for my inner nerd. Eventually, time passed, and I moved on to other hobbies. Making YouTube videos soon replaced written fan fiction for me, and eventually, I moved on to try and create my own original work.
It can be a struggle to break through in that arena. You can't just write a story or make a video and see if it catches on. You have to wait, knock on doors, compromise and elbow rub. It can wear you down. It can make you question yourself and all your ambitions. That is why so few truly "make it." One day, I hope that can be me. We'll see.
I guess what I'm getting at is that looking back, fan fiction was one of the purest ways I ever got to express my creativity. I just could sit down and write. I looked forward to it. I never thought of it as work. Even when I abandoned my KOTOR fic, The Wayside, it wasn't because I didn't enjoy it. I just lost the spark for that particular tale.
I doubt I'll write fan fiction again. Not in the same sense. However, I will never regret the fan fiction I did write, even if the quality of the end result may be suspect. There's a little bit of my younger self left in them. So whatever mainstream society says about fan fiction, or whatever jokes people may make, I will always look back at my time writing it with a smile. Were my stories any good? Who knows. Certainly not as good as I thought they were at the time. I learned a lot while creating them, though, and I enjoyed the experience. That's more than enough.