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Brain Dump: Free Your Head

Honest assessment time. It took me several tries to figure out how to begin writing this article. I started three different times and didn’t end up using any of the material. I felt myself trying to articulate a topic but couldn’t quite get the words out. I literally didn’t know how to start writing.

Needless to say, the ability to articulate a topic can be daunting and frustrating to new and experienced sterile processing writers alike. For many, it is where the writing process stops completely. However, our industry may have benefited greatly from this point of view, had it only been published.

Passion is determined by that in which we want to invest ourselves. This is where we will find the greatest obstacles. There are actionable steps one can take to work through the roadblock that occur in the early phases of writing. If we truly believe that our topic is an extension of our own insight and expertise, we must commit to the process of persevering through this struggle.

Brain dump
Let’s actively engage with our topic before we accept defeat. This focus session can be anywhere from 5–10 minutes long (it’s really up to you). Racing thoughts can be common during this time. Some will make absolutely no sense while others offer valid points and clarity. We may even find that we can’t believe our thoughts. This engagement process allows our mind to be completely engrossed in our topic, offering more understanding. When you feel like you can’t think any longer, let it all out! Grab your notebook, pen, laptop, or voice recorder and brain dump.

A brain dump is particularly effective because we limit ourselves to only thinking about our topic. We allow our minds to go down every thought about the topic uninterrupted. No editing, spelling errors, or grammar concerns to contend with. Just ourselves. Our emotions, responses, and triggers will serve as our topic outline when it’s time to translate our thoughts from our mind to words. The representation of ourselves in the topic can be contextualized because we understand what we want to say about it. This is what makes a brain dump such a powerful writing tool; it helps us gain clarity in our topic articulation.

Refrain from self-critique
Editing during our brain dump is a huge disservice to our creativity. A brain dump is a free flow of thoughts into words. It doesn’t have to make sense, have correct spelling, or structure. Our brain dumps are allowed to be as wild and unhinged as necessary.

When we edit during the brain dump, we are interrupting the thought process. We are deactivating the creative side of the brain to engage the corrective side, so to speak. The two parts can struggle to run simultaneously. If we notice that editing has started to occur, take a pause. Reconnect with your topic by beginning the 5–10 minutes of pure concentration you performed earlier. Then start again.

The physical outline of a brain dump is up to the writer. Bullets, columns, and full sentences can absolutely be used; however, if we have to choose between a well-structured sentence or transcribing an idea with passion, choose the latter.

Revisit vs. revise
After we’ve gotten all our topic responses out, we revisit our notes. Notice how we are revisiting and not revising. In this phase, we will reread all our concepts and group them into similar thoughts. This is achieved through highlight, rewrite, or the use of shapes to group similar points. When our concepts are grouped together in this way, our strongest and most supported points are easily identified. This is the expertise we can bring to the topic. If a voice recorder was used, use a notebook or laptop to take notes and group the similar thoughts together during the playback.

As sterile processing professionals, our perceptions, suggestions, and impressions benefit our industry. The actionable steps outlined in this article are designed to assist writers with initial topic clarity and momentum. Let’s focus ourselves enough to engage in our thought’s reactions to our topic. And just when we can’t take the racing thoughts any longer, brain dump. What is in our mind cannot serve us professionally if it stays there.


Sarah B. Cruz, CSPDT, CRCST, is a quality education program development coordinator for central sterile. As a CS education coordinator, she creates and institutes an education program in central sterile departments. This includes, but is not limited to, the formation of programs that onboard new employees, develop competencies, certify staff, develop LEAN process improvements, and implement standards of best practices and professional practices.

Sarah’s dedication to her industry continues as the creator and president of PRETREAT CSS, LLC, a mentorship platform used to educate, motivate, and support CS technicians’ professional development. Through tangible actions and physical indicators of success, Sarah knows central sterile services is an excellent profession to develop in as a career. She vocalizes her passion through published articles, social media, webinars, and public speaking. As an industry expert, she is passionate about her message: put the CSS in SUCCESS!

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