Success Story: Kelly Duff on CWC 2012

KJ headshotWe couldn’t be more proud of Kelly Duff, a 2012 Chicago Writers Conference attendee. Born, raised, and living in Elmhurst, IL, Kelly has a career in radio but now identifies as a writer. As well she should! Since participating in last year’s conference, Kelly has been hard at work on three different novels and a memoir. Here she tells us how CWC 2012 helped her to think of herself, first and foremost, as a writer.

CWC: What have you accomplished since CWC 2012? 

 I have written two books since September of last year. They are both in revision and I hope to have them published sometime later this year. That is quite an accomplishment since I have been writing since I was 8 years old and have never completed any novels I have started. I participated in and completed NaNoWriMo in November last year (50,000 words in 30 days) and I am about to finish Camp NaNo in July (we made our own goals, mine was 40,000 in 31 days). At Mare’s suggestion, I also started submitting some of my work to local and national contests. I was chosen for the live read with the comedy show “You’re Being Ridiculous” earlier this year where the theme was holidays. Getting onstage and reading my work to people was not only motivating, it was so much fun! I have picked up the pace on blogging on my website and I’ve joined a couple of professional writing groups. I follow several blogs and websites about writing, I’m involved with groups on Linked In, and I created a Facebook author page for my website. I’ve set up a home office but I find I am writing everywhere these days.

CWC: How did attending the conference change your outlook or approach as a writer? 

I’m taking it more seriously than I ever have in my entire life. I tell people I am a writer first, then I tell them where I work second (day job that pays the bills). I’m writing almost every single day – even when I don’t really want to or feel I have nothing to offer. I realized how much happier I am when I am writing. I have started to outline so I have the beginning, middle, and end. I am reading more by other authors in my genre along with resource books about plot, character development, and dialogue. I am networking like crazy. Going to the CWC last year, I went into it saying “I like to write.” Now, I say, “I am a writer, this is who I am.”

CWC: What tip or suggestion from our panelists/speakers really stuck with you?

Chuck Sambuchino’s session really spoke to me because he talked about building a platform and what agents are looking for. But the big tip was: Just keep writing.

For a complete list of panels, talks, and scheduled speakers at CWC 2013, check out our schedule here.

Registration is open until September 13. 

Our annual benefit is tomorrow, August 29! Space is limited; if you would like to attend, please send an email to