Write faster without pages (why page-oriented writing software is bad)

I find it odd that the common software for writing documents are still based around a model of pages of paper. Writing in this way forces a conflation of writing and layout, causing a ton of valueless work.

Writing is about exploring different ways of explaining some topic. For me, it often starts with a list of points I'd want to cover. That gets expanded out into paragraphs, and I may add images to explain the key ideas of something.

During this process, the structure of a document can change massively. Writing within a page oriented tool causes constant problems, as changes frequently cause paragraphs to break pages in awkward ways, or images to suddenly move from one page to another, leaving a nasty looking gap.

That problem only becomes worse once you have a document of tens, or hundreds of 'pages', as a change at the start cascadingly destroys the layout of all following pages. As this is right in front of you, there is a compulsi9n to fix it, which wastes a lot of time.

At some level of complexity, the time spent fixing the layout which is constantly breaking, exceeds that of writing.

It makes far more sense to split writing into two distinct steps:

  1. Write and edit the content
  2. Fit it to pages (if needed) only when it is finished (as an output step).

computers can trivially model an infinitely long writing page. You can restructure as you wish, and nothing ever breaks. Once it is done, it can then be laied out to pages, if required, and this work only needs to be done once.