Editing, Coaching, Mentoring, Brainstorming, Proposals, etc.

You are welcome to bring me any writing project, from your school paper to your doctoral thesis, from an anniversary poem to a screenplay, from the first word on the page to the proposal letter for your finished novel or non-fiction book. For over thirty years, I have helped writers successfully take the hurdles all the way to the published book. The preparation for publishing can be the most crucial step for many writers, as professionals tend to give your proposal one reading only. My guidance includes brainstorming, structural analysis, technical advice as well as patient and ardent reading and editing. Most importantly, I encourage a writing practice that allows you to stay in touch with the sense of play–the joy of writing.

At Play in the Field of Words

As a young aspiring writer, the advice I got from most teachers and writing manuals was to create a disciplined writing practice. The notion of discipline held an aura of serious professionalism that put my un-orderly writing moods to shame. I tried hard to be disciplined . . . only to procrastinate as if in tacit rebellion against myself. I tried all the tricks, from automatic writing to “morning pages,” from loads of coffee and cigarettes to sitting- and walking-meditations. Fleeing the lonely demands of my desk for the warm hubbub of a café, I sometimes got going—and then couldn’t stop. A day-and-night obsession would sweep everything else in my life into oblivion, but finally exhaustion and anxiety about the neglected rest of my life would drop me back to square one. Was I a fool to think I could be a writer when I had such difficulty writing?


I have come to believe that for some writers discipline is a panacea, and that other writers have to enter a state of playfulness to succeed. Often what it takes to get writing to happen is to distract the inner judge–to trick her and sneak around her unnoticed. But being able to begin may be as crucial to a writing practice as being able to stop. Playfulness is a good way to accomplish both, unless we confound play with random playing around, lacking purpose. Playfulness brings back our childhood gift of seeing everything you do, every word or sentence you write, as full of potential, no matter how foolish or outlandish it may seem to your eye-rolling inner critic.

Fool's Freedom

After thirty years of practice I have a bagful of tricks to share with you that can outwit the perfectionist critic who keeps looking over your shoulder with scowls or smirks at your writing and even just your longing to write. I will help you find to a place in your writing where discipline AND playfulness are tools in your toolbox and where anything is possible because you are not afraid to make a fool of yourself.

Write to me and tell me what you might need and what you can afford.

Fee: I mostly charge by the hour on a sliding scale.

Remember: wherever you are on this planet, I also do phone and online work as well as online sessions via Skype!


“Working with Renate is a treat. It’s the best way to tackle learning how to write with a pro by your side. Polishing a manuscript is hard work. Renate knows the hows and whys that make all the difference! Her efforts to go above and beyond the usual edit job are greatly appreciated.” –Gere Russell, public defender, forthcoming novel, On the Way to a Killing

“A most heartfelt and enormous thank you to … Renate Stendhal, my editor, for her wisdom and gentle “tweakings,” for giving courage and encouragement to my voice, for protecting me from myself. For becoming a good friend.” –Joan Brady, painter, Between Brushstrokes

“There are many occasions when an author becomes bogged down. On one such occasion, I was lucky enough to meet Renate Stendhal. As both a psychotherapist and a professional editor, she had the unique capability to help me transform this book from a quasi-academic tome to a book with appeal to the general public. For that I am deeply grateful.” –Claire Cooper Marcus, House as Mirror of Self

“I deeply appreciate Renate Stendhal, a skillful editor who helped me craft my words to that they would mirror, as truly as possible, the lives of the women and men I had the privilege to meet and interview.”–Dana Elizabeth Whitaker, Transforming Lives $40 at a Time: Women + Microfinance: Upending the Status Quo

“Renate, my mentor and editor, whose insightful guidance has brought me the gift of a new form, voice, and genre.” —Jess Wells, AfterShocks

“Renate Stendhal, the best writing midwife a very ‘pregnant’ author could ever want… I’ve come to see Renate as my midwife, there for me each step of the way. When I thought I’d have to do it all alone, she kept showing up. When I thought I was just carrying one creative child, she heard many heartbeats.”–Rosy Aronson, Ph.D., A Tale of Serendipity: The Adventure Begins

“Renate Stendhal has been my writing coach for a number of years. She is an expert. Renate has a quick, unerring eye and a gentle but direct way of pointing out what doesn’t work. She has been an encouraging guide on my path as a writer. With her invaluable help I have published poetry in numerous literary journals and have two books pending publication. Kudos to Renate!” —Claire Scott, Waiting to Be Called

“I am grateful to Renate Stendhal, without whose belief, guidance and mentoring I would never have been able to complete this long and arduous project. An author, writing consultant, and friend, Renate urged me to go far deeper into the darkness than I thought I could. With the aid of her remarkable insight and honesty, I was willing to grapple with the demons of my nightmare, to take hold of the tormenting shame and guilt which had kept me silent for so long, and to step out from behind the shadows of Jonestown and stand tall in the light once more.” –Deborah Layton, Seductive Poison

“Renate Stendhal is a beautifully supportive and encouraging writing coach. She is generous with her praise and delicate with her critiques. As any excellent counselor, Renate listens, paying deep attention to her client’s needs. She listens to understand her client’s aspirations and then helps by to moving the project in the right direction. A particularly lovely aspect of working with Renate is her broad aesthetic – her passions run from the classic novel, to memoir, creative non-fiction and non-fiction and poetry. All that she asks is that the piece be well-constructed and compelling. And, she will help you get there if you get stuck!” —Joan Gelfand, The Long Blue Room (poetry), Fear to Shred, (novel due in 2015)

Renate offers intuitive listening and common-sense conversation for couples and individuals. Renate’s focus on and work with lesbian couples follows a unique approach:

Often, you find that although you are told the same thing by everyone, it really doesn’t seem to be working, so you find yourself stepping slowly out of your comfort zone and skinning the cat another way (no pun intended). For me, I noticed things we hadn’t been taught to hear. Women in relationships with women have a continually evolving emotional and sexual make-up. Click Here to read more.

“In interactive, common-sense conversations the goal is to mutually create an environment within which the unspoken self can emerge. I encourage soul-searching, self-knowledge, the capacity to find language for feelings, and reflection about the meaning of life. After many years of talking to individuals and couples, I believe that one way to a balanced and fulfilled life is on a deeply spiritual path.I am comfortable with unconventional life-styles and visions of life.”

In spite of her psychological studies, degrees and decades of practice, she chose not to be a therapist. She does not diagnose or offer “treatment.” She is ordained by AIWP, the Association for the Integration of the Whole Person. (AIWP Guidelines)

Her offices are in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can also talk to her on the phone, online or on Skype, wherever you are. Contact Renate.


I worked with Renate Stendhal on and off for many years. As a counselor and guide, she led me through the labyrinths of my experiences—and the stories I had constructed around them—and taught me to stare unflinchingly at some difficult truths. There is immense freedom as a result of such work. I am grateful to Renate for her courage and brilliance, for leading me to the other side. Aja Duncan, San Francisco

A few years ago, Violeta came home and said, 'This book, this woman! I will contact her even if she lives in America. She will for sure help us.' I thought to myself: okay, we’ll see. Yes, it worked! We could talk to you, see you on Skype, could explain our feelings, and were guided by you. Step by step you showed us the right direction. The distance played no role at all. It was a  marvelous experience. We are still together — but wouldn't be if it weren't for you. Heartfelt gratitude and hugs! Petra and Violeta, Germany

Working with Renate was one of the most rewarding times in my life.  My contact with Renate started when my lesbian relationship started to unravel, and with her guidance, it did not.  Over a four-year period, Renate went from being my counselor to my writing coach and, finally, to my provost, all because she ignited my desire to learn and write.  Renate was my way companion for those four years - she creatively showed me the way from there to here. Kathleen DePuyt, Santa Rosa

I have worked with Renate, off and on, for several years – about personal and work issues.She has been immensely helpful – she is smart, straight forward, intuitive, and yet down to earth – a great sounding board, and a tremendous support when things were tough. Dr. Anne, Berkeley

Renate Stendhal has been my counselor for many years. She seems to always have a uniquely wise and humorous perspective on the many waves of life through which we all must navigate. Her loving solidity and common sense have helped me through countless crises and she is a true friend. Jai Uttal, Fairfax