How My Intuition Wrote My Picture Book The Donkey’s Song


When I am painting and when I am writing, I consider it a great day when something within myself takes over and essentially completes my project for me. This gentle urging is intuition. It is the spark that helped Michelangelo release his sculptures from a piece of rock.

Janis Joplin – Jacki Kellum Watercolor

My intuition is also the force that paints my most successful paintings.

My intuition wrote my debut picture book, The Donkey’s Song, which was illustrated by Sydney Hanson and published in October of 2022 by Doubleday for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House – Random House Kids.

In a previous post, I spoke about my writing process. I said that when I am writing, I close my eyes, and I type, describing what my mind is seeing.

Picture Writing – How Jacki Kellum Wrote Her Debut Picture Book The Donkey’s Song

Here Are the Steps of My Writing Process:

  • Selecting a BroadTopic is My First Step. I Don’t Title the Story until I Complete It
  • I Begin the Visualization Process – The Story Begins to Play in My Mind Like a Movie
  • If I Need to Research My Topic, I do that Next.
  • Then, I Write  — Simply Describing What I See. My Intuition Does the Heavy Lifting of  My Writing.

In another post, I make it clear that I NEVER write and edit at the same time. When the editor is at work, my intuition takes a hike.

#14DayPBChallenge – Day 3 – February 2023 – Tips for Writing the First Draft of Your Picture Book

People have commented that they admire my bravery when I paint, but I assure the world that I am not the brave part of my painting team. My intuition is. When I am having a good painting day, an inward force literally takes control of my hand and urges it to dip into a little more blue paint–to slash it here or there — or to dip into a little more red paint and to slash it somewhere else.

Paint Brushes – Detail of  a Jacki Kellum Oil

I especially like to slash red. In my opinion, the color red is absolute energy. It is life.

If I l squint my eyes regularly as I paint, an internal voice takes over and tells me what to do next and where and how to do it. I merely go into autopilot, and I allow my intuition to do the heavy lifting of my painting. When I am having a good writing day, the same thing happens with my words–they begin to write themselves–or again, my intuition writes for me. My words tumble out. I often say:

“The angels wrote The Donkey’s Song, and God published.”

We’ll talk more about that miracle later.

Don’t Wait For Your Muse to Start Your Writing Process

While this post is about my intuition, I must make one thing clear. My intuition NEVER starts working until I show up and begin the process. I have tried waiting years for my muse to move me, but it never does. At least, it never does until I show up and begin some creative project, and only then, when the time is perfect, the angels might create my story.

Multi-tasking is the Enemy of Intuition

I’ll write more about this later, but trust me: Your intuition is a jealous friend. She will not work for you if you are not giving her your absolute attention.

In the following post, I take a deep dive into the intuitive process:

What Is Intuition & How Does It Help Us Create?