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Quitters, twitters and New Year jitters


January 15, 2011 by Jools Stone

Last Gasp? Yes and No!

Twitter’s a bit like smoking. In the words of Peter Cetera, it’s a hard habit to break and you’d better believe him, cos he is a man who will fight for your honour. And lord knows there aren’t enough of those to go round.

Where was I? Ah yes, that’s it, twitter and being a quitter. Yes, so why exactly is twitter like I hear you sigh wearily? Well once it grips you it’s really very hard to imagine life without it. To truly commit to quit either you really have to cast your mind back to a time before you’d tried it. You yearn for those days. Oh how you yearn.

If you Leave me Now

Try doing it now. Not easy is it? I speak as someone who has recently quit cigarettes. Important to say that as a definite statement. If I allow the wooly weasel words ‘trying to’ any breathing room, they’ll gradually winkle open that stinky door to relapse.

(Of course if I do fail, then this post will forever mock me with its yellowed fingers and shame me back into hiding. Which is why I’m not quite foolish enough to write up my original plan of something on my yearly bogging goals.)

Like most people when I first tried twitter I really could not see what all the fuss was about. I followed a dozen people I knew from the ‘real world’, was bemused by strangers following me (though amused by one guy who followed purely because we share a name) scratched my head and prepared a superior tone of detachment from the whole silly business.

The Glory of Love

Similarly, few smokers will tell you how much they enjoyed their first cigarette and in fact many a  pious non-smoker falls foul eventually.  Now I’m hooked on my twitterette fix and (unless I’m away) rarely a day goes by where I don’t at least check my @msgs and scan the top of my feed a few times.

So anyway just a  few days after I had this thought about the parallels between twitter and fags something weird happened:

I quit the cancer sticks but I also almost quit twitter too, by mistake.

One of the strange early withdrawal symptoms was a horribly oppressive feeling that I needed to smoke to write – and that included tweeting.  For a few days I just stared blankly at my laptop, I couldn’t concentrate at all, couldn’t get started, completely incapacitated save for a bit of lurking and the odd ‘thanks’ return message.

Now I earn my living by writing so this was definitely bad news bears country. I’m not really sure how I shook it off, but I’m pleased to say that I did eventually.  Twitter may be just as addictive in my book but it’s arguably not quite as harmful.

As to why I love it so, I’ll save that for another post another time soon enough when I can’t be bothered to craft anything vaguely approaching a pillar post but suffice to say that it has prompted me to pen limericks for people I’ve never met, invent daft titles for #lessambitiousfilms, communicate in morse code and today I even unlearned a bad grammatical habit which has Stuck with me for many a year. At least I hope I did.

You’re the Inspiration

You’re probably wondering by now what the hell all this has to do with train travel. Well not much really, I could insert a rubbish puffing pun if that’ll placate you? I think I have well and truly exhausted the limits of my tenuous analogies anyway, so I won’t push my luck.  But it’s a round about way of flagging up a few wee changes to this blog.

While I have quit some things lately, reports of my blogging demise have been exaggerated… a little.

I’ve finally made a conscious decision to broaden the focus a bit. I touched on the reasons for this after my Travel Blog Camp experience. I want to cover more ground and reflect more of my interests.

Hard to say I’m Sorry

Expect some stuff about general travel and crossovers with music, film, games and yes social mejah, cos that’s how I roll baby. And umm rail travel isn’t too cheap, so while I plan to do a  bit of it this year of course it may not be enough to sustain the blog on its own long term.

I’m finally looking forward to 2011 and I think you should too.

In a foolhardy bid to man up to the  bloggodrome I’ve decided to join Todd Wassel’s Travel Blog Challenge.  Check out the site some time.  This challenges bloggers to increase their traffic to 1000 unique visitors a day and in doing so earn $1000 a month for their efforts.  I’m much less bothered about the monetisation side, I just want to build a decent audience. Any money I make will just be a rather nice bonus-some by product of that.

Talking of making a little pin money from the site *cough* there will be a couple of  posts coming up soon, I hope you like them. (Actually I hope I like them!)

Niagara Falls

And there will be some other shiny new shit for you to break, such as dream rail trip itinerary posts and a fair bit of stuff about my two imminent trips. One to Canada and one to… somewhere else of an interesting cultural bent…

Intrigued?  You bally well should be!

Now don’t just sit there man, I’m back from the dead, leave me a comment goddamit!


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liz Borod Wright and Jools Stone, Ms Gourmantic. Ms Gourmantic said: RT @jools_octavius Quitters, twitters and New Year jitters […]

  2. Good for you, Jools, on all fronts! Cigs, blog direction, your return to the twitterverse — all of it. Thanks for sharing this with us. Although I was on again/off again in my feelings about Twitter, Facebook and all that recently, I’m feeling a bit more hopeful. Got to make some changes and build momentum, but anything is possible.

    Looking forward to keeping up with you!

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Cathy, I think a bit of ebb n flow is good, y’know? We’d be total slaves to these things otherwise. I came so close to giving up the wrong things recently, but trying to relax, enjoy it for what it is, do it on my terms. Still no harm in aiming high, esp this early in the year though!

  3. Greg Gross says:

    The goal of 1,000 unique visitors a day is a good one, and you’ve got the chops to get there, no question. Right now, I’d be over the moon if I could consistently bring in 100 on a daily basis.

    Okay, I’m in! Let’s DO this!, Jools!

    I’ve come to appreciate Facebook (even if it drives me batty at times), and Twitter, too. Am only now figuring out how to make use of StumbleUpon. But when it comes to social media, I’m getting very close to that ledge of not being able to absorb ONE…MORE…THING. Which is scary because in this brave new digital word, as we all know, there’s ALWAYS…ONE…MORE…THING!

    • Jools Stone says:

      Cheers Greg! Well I’m not 100% if I got that stat right TBH, does sound mighty high to me just now! If you do want to join up officially, then check out the site. You just need to post about it linking to it and participate ion the forums, but full details are on the blog.

      Yeah, twitter has me much worse than FBk for some reason and SU is its own sweet, cracklined nectar once you get used to it and really ratchet up those likes. The more you use it, the better it gets!

      One more thing syndrome, oh yes can relate to that!

  4. Kristy says:

    Jools, great job on kicking that habit, I am also glad to see that you are taking the 1000-1000 challenge, I really am going to go take a look at that… all things worth doing are tough and this seems to be an awesome one.

    Congrats again on the no smoking gig!

  5. Good luck breaking off from the fags (and I stress that I meant this sentence in UK English, not US English)

    Changing circumstances mean that while my blogging is still going strong, my Twitter presence has weakened in recent weeks. I’m doing all I can to keep in touch and stay on top of things but there are only 24 hours in the day and a guy’s gotta sleep some time!

    Wishing you well for 2011!

  6. yay! glad you’re back- was missing you and if i didn’t have my head up my own arse right now, would have DMed you about it (oh twitter, love thee too). on the ciggies- i used to smoke a pack a day of dunhill reds (cost more than this vintage-lover’s shirts then, how’s that for priorities?) i lived in nyc and wrote like a fiend (journal mumbo jumbo pre-blog days) and i felt the same way when i quit. couldn’t even write in a journal for no-one but myself.
    glad to hear that’s passed for you as you do have a loving audience. excited for the changes- sure you’ve got some great tricks up your sleeve- and good on you for taking up the challenge 🙂

  7. Jeremy B says:

    Like you, I’ve had to find inspiration and a way to redefine myself for 2011. Congrats on quitting smoking, welcome to the Travel blog challenge, and thanks to you I am singing Chicago tunes! And just to inspire you and make sure you don’t quit Twitter, I am going to tweet this now.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Haha, well i won’t stand in your way there Jeremy! Besides i just can’t fight this feeling anymore.. (Oh no, that was REO Speedwagon wasn’t it?)

  8. Sue Lowry says:

    Enjoyed this post and you encapsulated so brilliantly how addictive twitter can be. As a recent convert, it summed up my thoughts pretty much exactly. Well done re the ciggies and I look forward to reading more of your work – via whatever medium & topic – during 2012

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Sue! Always great to see some canny PR folks taking a keen int in blogs and leaving a comment. Look forward to working with you soon.

  9. The NVR Guys says:

    You can quit smoking, but you can’t quit us. Ever.

  10. Dominique says:

    Now I’ve got all of those Peter Cetera songs running through my head (and I’m vaguely ashamed that I could spot all of the song titles integrated into this post :lol:)
    Congratulations on quitting smoking. I know that it’s difficult, but it is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself!
    I started with Twitter first, and became pretty hooked. But I resisted Facebook for quite a while because I knew it would be another time suck. But resistance is pretty futile…
    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with your newish blogging direction. I deliberately picked a subject (the US Midwest) that was narrow enough to be a decently under-populated niche, but large enough to give me a bit of room to move around within it. I’ve got a sub set of posts within it called Where I live where I post about real local events and topics, yet I’ve still got quite a few destinations that are relatively easy day trips, weekends, or road trips away (meaning I’ll travel enough to keep the blog going over time). Plus I like to do a lot of posts on art, architecture, music…and, yeah, I like to branch out a bit from there with the occasional post about photography or other subjects.
    Still, I guess I should bestir myself to more thoroughly check out the 1000/1000 thingy…

    • Jools Stone says:

      I think that’s a sensible approach Dom. Maybe I should get a few affiliate links up to Chicago’s Greatest Hits!

  11. inka says:

    I’m still on the fags and also still feeling my way aroubnd twitter. Glad to hear abiut all the new enterprises, but please don’t forget the glamorous train story you promised me.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Well we cannot have the glamour granny sans cigarette and elegant cigarette holder now can we? Not forgotten, but am barely blinking into the light again after my blogging hibernation!

  12. Gillian says:

    Good decision to broaden your scope as you were definitely feeling as though it was limiting you. And now we can hear more about you and your stories…yay!!

  13. Jessalyn says:

    Hooray, glad you’re back, Jools! And as not only an American but a Californian at that, it’s my national duty to congratulate you on kicking the smoking habit. Looking forward to reading about your newly added topics and to keeping up with how the Travel Blog Challenge is going for you. Good luck!

  14. Jim says:

    I’m with Lorna, missing you Jools…but my head sure isn’t where she reckons hers is.
    You really do have great writing skills, and you keep us entertained, so crossovers ain’t so bad anyway. Travel takes many forms. Let’s here more wherever you roll along to.

  15. Jerry says:

    Ah, Jools,
    For a while you had me worried. Wondered if you were contemplating your navel in a post Hogmanay regretful fashion, so glad you have given up the tabs and not the tweets. Probably a good thing, quitting smoking before coming to Canada, fags are something you smoke in a completely different way here…
    Hope you are well and preparing for an epic visit to an epic destination. Happy New Year Jools,

  16. I think we are all finding ways to redefine ourselves this year. I don’t have to worry about quitting smoking but a whole lot of other things as well. I have spent the last couple of days culling people who I was following on twitter. If I don’t interact with you or you pee me off with your negative and holier than thou attitude it is on the twitter floorboard for you! Life is too short and time too precious to waste.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Quite agree Caz. Cutting out the dead wood from the twitter millpond can be just as cathartic as giving up the evil weed.

  17. robin says:

    I stopped smoking about 18 months ago so I feel your pain. Stick with it – a glorious future of smug superiority awaits!! Best of luck with the chalenge 🙂

  18. Over time blogs can’t lie ~ Its too hard to keep up the ‘face’ so if you don’t really have trains on the brain, we’d love to hear about whatever’s really at your core 😉

    By the way would love to see your real face – have you been to gravatar?

  19. I love this post. It’s funny as hell and it’s inspiring. I’m very tempted to join the Travel Blog Challenge now, as a result of you doing it. The reason? I think we’re in similar situations re: our goals. Also, it would give me more reasons to enjoy smoking ‘twitterettes.’ Glad you didn’t quit, btw!! 🙂

    • Jools Stone says:

      Get on board with it Lisa! The more good people I know on ‘the programme’ the more seriously I’ll take it I think.

  20. John says:

    Good luck with the new project especially the cigarettes. Was going to write more but I’m afraid you will put it in your forthcoming book of comments posted by Welshmen on the He Thought of Trains Blog, then go on make to a film of it and then sell “Jools the Tank Engine” toys to the kids.

  21. Jozef Maxted says:

    Good luck with the new direction! I’ve never smoked but I sure am addicted to twitter!! Luckily as far I am aware, twitter has no harmful side effects haha

  22. Without the cost of cigs Jools, you’ll be able to fly through to Paris for a weekend!! Oh no, you usually go there on the Oriental Express, sorry!

    • Jools Stone says:

      Int thought John. I should work out just how many rail miles I’ll rack up with the ciggie savings!

  23. I love the positive vibes I’m getting from this post. Well done on all fronts, esp the ciggies! I like that you’re diversifying into other aspects as well. Writing stems inspiration and that’s what I like to feel behind the written word.

    And now that you’re on a roll, maybe I can expect my guest post – morse code not needed 🙂

  24. Norbert says:

    Hey Jools! Good to see you back! Congrats on quitting smoking and really looking forward for the new direction you’re taking the blog. I’m also taking the 1000-1000 so it’ll be cool to see where it takes us.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Nice one Norbster! Hope you had lots of snow fun over the break. I saw yr comments on the recent TBC post re MozRank, thanks for that tip!

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