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

I am a painter, as well as a writer, and perhaps that is why I mentally “see” what I am writing before I begin to write. For years I have heard that children are either visual learners or verbal learners. I am both, but I am probably more visual than I am verbal.

I Call My Writing Style: Picture Writing

Please allow me to explain. When I am writing, I close my eyes, and I simply type, describing what my mind is seeing, and that is how I wrote The Donkey’s Song.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, and throughout my childhood, I heard the Christmas Nativity Story at least 3 times a year. Other than that, I was in at least 1 Christmas Pageant a year, and when I began writing picture books, something within me kept nagging me to write The Nativity Story. I was compelled to write it.

For a long while, I resisted that urge. I had been told that picture books with any overtones of religion would never sell to a mainstream book market.

[Picture Book Tip #1 for Today – Don’t Believe Everything That Other People Tell You About Which Picture Books Will and Will Not Sell-  Also Remember that MANY people told Rowling that Harry Potter would never sell.]

But back to me and my Christmas story. Finally, I gave in and simply shut my eyes and began visualizing the Christmas story–one scene at a time.  And scene by scene, I began to type the words that described the images inside my mind of the Nativity Story. Like a movie, the whole thing played in my mind’s eye. I recalled those images from the pictures that I saw in Sunday School, but hey! I was a child during the 1950s, and the Sunday School pictures weren’t great then, but I have always had a great imagination. When I was a tiny child, my mind began giving form to the Nativity Story. When I began writing The Donkey’s Song, I primarily recalled the images that I had formed in my mind long ago. To this day, I can still see the stream of scenes that sprang from my childlike fascination with the wonder of the Nativity. When I am picture writing, I look for inspiration from the images that have formed inside me.

Even when I am creating a story from scratch, I visualize the scenes of the book as they come to me, and again, I simply describe what I see.

The interesting thing is that the  words come to me in rhyme, but I’ll  talk rhyme in another post.