Short version: writing fanfic can make you a more creative person.
Clive Thompson on the Importance of Fan Fiction | Underwire | Wired.com
Fan fiction has boomed in the past decade, as young people (and many adults) have swarmed online to share what-if tales set in their favorite movies, books, animation, and videogames. Hunger Games fanfic? 10,692 stories. Teen Titans? 26,594 stories. Shakespeare fan fiction? Oh, yes way: 1,747 stories.
You could, as many do, cluck disapprovingly at this activity. Haven’t these folks got anything better to do with their time?
To which I reply: No, they don’t. Because they’re creating paracosms — an activity that, research is showing, builds creative skills that pay off in real life.
Paracosms are the fantasy worlds that many dreamy, imaginative kids like to invent when they’re young. Some of history’s most creative adults had engaged in “worldplay” as children. The Bront� siblings, in one famous example, concocted paracosms so elaborate that they documented them with meticulous maps, drawings, and hundreds of pages of encyclopedic writing.
It now appears that, like the Bront�s, kids who engage in paracosmic play are more likely to be creative as adults. In 2002 researchers Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein conducted an elegant study. They polled recipients of MacArthur genius grants — which reward those who’ve been particularly creative in areas as diverse as law, chemistry, and architecture — to see if they’d created paracosms as children. Amazingly, the MacArthur fellows were twice as likely as “normal” nongeniuses to have done so. Some fields were particularly rife with worldplayers: Fully 46 percent of the recipients polled in the social sciences had created paracosms in their youth.