William Morris and Writing as a Craft

It’s bank holiday again, so I’ve got that off-duty feeling: I’ve even been getting away from my desk (which is why this post is a bit late). Yesterday I went on a mini adventure to the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. My knowledge of Morris was sketchy before this visit, although I did previously know of his reputation as a socialist and purveyor of arsenic wallpaper.

I now have a better idea of the man and his work, and he was the very embodiment of the word prolific. Morris died aged only 62, and at the time his doctor asserted,

“The disease is simply being William Morris, and having done more work than most 10 men.”

But I was struck not by Morris’ hard work, prodigious though it was, but his view of writing as a craft. I snapped these captions (not using flash) from the wall of the gallery:

Earthly_Paradise_1 Earthly_Paradise_2

I approve of the idea of writing as craft, and I think it’s a true observation. It means that good writers are made, not born, and furthermore they can be self-made. To be a good, even great writer, you don’t have to go to university. You don’t have to be privileged or rich. You just have to learn your craft, and learn about your craft.

Then practice it, preferably using real writing implements on real paper.

Lynn is the founder and quality-maven-in-chief of Lexis Writing, a collective of expert writers creating high quality content and copy for businesses in the UK and beyond.

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