2014 is the year I went full steam ahead with creating "abstract" fractals. It's also the same year I discovered Chaotica, an amazing fractal creator and renderer. Chaotic Studio 1 isn't the most well optimized program, but it was certainly better than Apophysys 7x. I'd still create the basic fractal in Apo, but then do the final touches in Chaotica before rendering it. I also began experimenting with adding blurs during this time.
I'd like to thank Sam aka Chaos Fissure for first introducing me to Chaotica. Without him, I likely would have given up on fractals entirely. His main art gallery can be found at: https://www.deviantart.com/chaosfissure