Cover Image: How We Do It

How We Do It

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Engaging and insightful. A recommended purchase for collections where writing craft titles are popular.
Was this review helpful?
"How We Do It: Black Writers on Craft, Practice, and Skill," edited by Jericho Brown, is a book that deserves a place on the shelf of any aspiring writer. You'll find plenty of inspiration and specific advice on writing challenges like understanding character motivation and how to convey emotion on the page.

But that's only one layer. At its heart, the book is written by Black writers, for Black writers. It's about language and tradition. Family and kinship. Memory and authenticity. About telling stories and being silenced. 

The anthology includes 30+ contributors who share their experiences and insights about finding their writers' voices. There are essays discussing survival narratives, colorism, and using the storytelling found in fiction to inform memoir writing to create a cohesive whole with a narrative arc that keeps readers turning the page. How We Do It combines practical, actionable advice with a deeper examination of culture, art, and survival.

I received this advanced reader copy of How We Do It from Amistad and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
How We Do It: Black Writers on Craft, Practice, and Skill, edited by Jericho Brown, is a fascinating collection of advice and pointers that stops short, thankfully, of the many books that make writing sound like simply following steps. This volume, while highlighting the many steps that are essential to writing, have as much or more to do with the subtle aspects of those steps and the important element of the writer's mindset.

This will be a valuable addition to any writer's library, especially those of color or, frankly, any other writer who feels they are or have been marginalized. This is about finding how best to express oneself, not in a lock step approach but in one that looks inward as much as backward to already published writers. Knowing what to do is great, knowing how to adapt that knowledge to what you want to express is even better. And that is where this book makes its largest contribution.

If you're not a writer, or if, like me, you write mostly for yourself, this is still a useful book since it helps readers better understand what goes into a writer's choices. Knowing that allows a reader to better do their part in making the story both the writer's and the reader's. 

I enjoyed every essay in the book, but the one I think really spoke to me was Curdella Forbes' essay on kinship. While definitely speaking to the craft of writing, and by extension reading, it also touches on our everyday interactions in the world. I found it to be both a wonderful expression of an empowering perspective and a more open-minded and -hearted way to understand people in general.

Highly recommended for both writers as well as readers who want to be more active in their engagement with books, from novels to poetry and memoirs.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
Attention readers and writers alike-this book is absolutely necessary to have in your library. The introduction is well written and gives you a description on what you can expect from the rest of the book. The chapters have very “catchy” but  accurate titles that made me smile. This is an anthology which again peaked my interest. (an Anthology is always a good thing) 
The book also references lots of great published works by Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, and Shakespeare to name a few. 
One of my favorite sections of the books was called In Abiding Metaphors and Finding a Calling. This really pointed out all the things about reading and word flow that I love while reading. All in all this is such a great idea and kudos to all the contributors and the editor Jericho Brown. You can find essays in the book by Tayari Jones, Daniel Omotosho Black, and Jacqueline Woodson, and so many others. 
Thank you for such an amazing read!
Was this review helpful?
There is a unique way multicultural writers write. This is no different for the Black writers or authors.  thirty-one essays written by different authors who are willing to share how culture can ring loud and true. Some of the authors you will recognize: Daniel Black , Jewell Parker Rhodes and Jacqueline Woodson. Each author writes about what has been important to get across to their reader.

I like "How We Do It" because it is the writings of silent voices The ones we really need to search for in the bookstore. I also like how each author Jericho Brown chose shares the names of other authors in their essays. William Faulkner's name pops up and so does Edward Jones name show up. It is like your getting more for your buck. You might find yourself taking notes. I am pretty sure this book is a keeper.

If you are not an author, the book is still a good one to buy. There is the chance to read the secrets about how you like writers to write,  how they achieve  their goals and how to make a character blossom. It is an important book. It is a practical book.
Was this review helpful?
Incredible, powerful collection, filled with some of the best writers of our time and essays that should be required reading.
Was this review helpful?
**Thank you, NetGalley, for this ARC. This review is my own opinion**

I seriously didn't think I'd get this ARC! I have been hearing a lot of good things on it. This is not your traditional "writing" books, which is totally fine! The diverse viewpoint from Black writers definitely gives a different spin on the craft. I learned things about historical Black writers and current Black writers. Being half Black myself, this book made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because there aren't many books out there that gives voice to Black writers. I also love to write and am working on becoming a published author.
Was this review helpful?
How We Do It is a writing book far from other writers' books. As a Creative Writing Major, I'm bound to read many of them--and I have. Many of which I can't help but roll my eyes at. 

How We Do It highlighted many perspectives of writing told wrong by White Authors and professors. So many of the tips I wrote down helped me with my writing. In this book, a mixture of essays and interviews helps the reader stay engaged. It hits many different topics and genres, from memoirs to poetry. Even if you're not a black author, I think this book has so many valuable things that can benefit you and your writing.
Was this review helpful?
This book, made up of both recent and older essays and interviews with Black writers, is ostensibly a craft book. But the idea of craft has recently been undergoing some much-needed challenges, and so the pieces in this collection that resonate the most with me are the ones that push back against craft--especially those by Rita Dove and Nikki Giovanni. Many of the older pieces included here are by authors who, during the majority of their career, were pushed by publishers and editors and others in the industry to "write White;" who were influenced by the lingering ideas of Booker T. Washington, who felt that for Blacks to be taken seriously and accorded rights, they had to be not just equal than but better than their White colleagues--to have better grammar, better vocabularies, better "style." This makes the collection a bit of a museum of ideas about writing and craft. Nonetheless, there is good advice to be found here. For writing instructors, I'd suggest also reading Felicia Rose Chavez's The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop and Matthew Salesses's Craft in the Real World.
Was this review helpful?
This is such a special book. If you’re a writer, especially a Black writer, you NEED this like… yesterday! I loved learning about the creative processes of so many different writers, from poets to novelists to screenplay writers. I am a songwriter and I already know that I’ll keep coming back to this book for inspiration because so many of the things I learned can easily be applied to my own writing. 

I also really liked that This Is How We Do It includes many different formats, (interviews, essays ect) and really allowed each writer to shine in their own unique way.
Was this review helpful?
This is a book of essays by Black writers on how they write for their audiences. I learned some things from reading this book, but some of the essays were pretty skippable. Yes, I am a white person reviewing a book about what Black writers have to say, and although some readers of GoodReads will dismiss this review because of that, nevertheless, my take on this book was that these authors must not have been given any guidance on what the editors were looking for. Too many of the essays were rambling, unstructured, and not helpful to new writers. I would genuinely like to read a well-written how-to book for Black writers, because I KNOW that I would learn from it too.
Was this review helpful?
How We Do It edited by Jericho Brown and Darlene Taylor is a collection of essays by Black writers for Black writers, creatives, and readers. I enjoyed reading the personalized experiences of each contributor as they share their understanding of the craft of writing poetry, fiction, and storytelling in general. 

Each essay provides an analysis of the way Black writers both engage with structure, plot, and form while also resisting these pre-established forms in order to create from a place of ultimate authenticity. I appreciate the way each writer speaks to how these structures can be helpful to the creative process and also limiting in the way the forms privilege Western perspectives. As writers of the African diaspora, each author engages with these expectations differently and on their own terms. It was a treat to explore the opinions and practices of each writer based on their own cultural vision of the way Black authors remember and execute the art of storytelling.

There is also homage paid to Black literary giants and many references made to Black literature considered part of the literary canon which I look forward to exploring further. 

Thank you to the authors, editors, and publisher for the e-arc copy!
Was this review helpful?