We do in fact have a generally accepted way to spell English words: it’s called spelling rules. As literacy increased over the years, the rules developed, too. When the printing press was invented in Germany in the mid-15th century, few of the typesetters spoke English. When William Caxton introduced the printing press to England in 1476, the typesetters abandoned some of the ancient English letters, such as the thorn, the eth and the wynn and standardized the English alphabet as much as they could.
People tend to want conformity, and this was slowly applied to spelling. If a word was spelled a certain way, then a similar word should also be spelled that way. Unfortunately, during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the English language was acquiring an extraordinary number of new words from a wide variety of sources, so the spelling of the new words was not always systematic. But the printers and the writers did their best.
The problem was that there were no guidelines. No king ever mandated a spelling system and no university ever formed an academy to regulate spelling. In 1635, the French created the Académie française to rule their language, and in 1713 Spain created its own academy. But not the English. The problem was left to the dictionary writers, and they often disagreed with each other about spelling.
Nevertheless, spelling rules gradually appeared. Today almost every commonly used word is subject to spelling rules that have been around for over a hundred years. Yes, exceptions to many of the rules exist, but when we look closely, we find the exceptions are very few. And some rules have no exceptions at all. For example - Except for names, and words translated from foreign alphabets such as Chinese or Arabic, can you think of any word where the Q stands alone?