My writing skill
I regularly do a lot of self-reflection with myself to analyze how I've performed in my life to see where I can improve. Writing is my latest skill to improve.
Writing, (along with communication in general) is the single most important skill a software developer can have. For me, since I have more recently been branching into software architecture this has become even more important.
37signals described this incredibly well in Getting Real:
Hire good writers
If you are trying to decide between a few people to fill a position, always hire the better writer. It doesn't matter if that person is a designer, programmer, marketer, salesperson, or whatever, the writing skills will pay off. Effective, concise writing and editing leads to effective, concise code, design, emails, instant messages, and more.
That's because being a good writer is about more than words. Good writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else's shoes. They know what to omit. They think clearly. And those are the qualities you need.
Oh, and that's the entire 'chapter'. It's a great, short book that everyone should read. It's full of tiny essays like that.
Writing in business
Writing has become more important in recent years than it was even 15 years ago in all fields. Business is conducted via email and IM. We all have a love/hate attitude towards it, but it is there, and it's a time sink.
Improving our writing skill allows us to send effective emails that can be not only read quickly, but understood quickly. Writing is more important today than it's ever been for this reason. We've never had so much to read.
Writing for engineers
Engineers get this doubly bad. Along with that, we have contractors and clients around the world. In most companies I've worked at, many engineers would prefer IM to face-to-face interaction.
What's worse is engineers don't take an effort to improve their writing skill. This is why I've taken it upon myself to write a blog post every day for a year. I actually have been doing 750 words for years to prep myself for this, but that's all been private jibberish.
I love reading old articles by well-known bloggers in their early days. They are always terrible. I'm not after being the next big pundit, my goal is to make this my terrible article someday.
Now it's primetime writing. I've wrote 10 posts so far (not all I decided to publish). It's challenging in a way that programming has never been.