Back during the 3.0/3.5E days I was trying to figure out how to get my adventure design juices going, and one sure way to do that is to find a challenge to write toward.
While staring at a character sheet of one of the campaigns' PCs it dawned on me that there were a lot of skills that rarely make it into adventures in any meaningful way. Sure they might get used during play, but they are an afterthought when designing challenges and features of an adventure. This seems to be true not just of my own work, but of published adventures as well.
Here I have to admit that while I did come up with an idea to try, I haven't actually done anything with the idea. The big reason is that I have done very little adventure writing over the last decade, a fact I am actually sad to realize. So what is this idea you ask (or not)?
If your game uses a list of skills, get random on yourself. Roll dice to give you a handful of skills that you have to feature in your adventure at some point. Focus a story element around the skill in some prominent way.
Sure, you could get the usual suspects, however over the course of several adventures you are bound to get skills to design for that will challenge your creativity.
For example: Animal Handling. Could this require a sort of cattle drive? Why would that be important?
How about Profession Sailor? Does the party have the task of stealing a ship from port and getting away with it? Would they have to be competent enough to convince onlookers they are the real crew?
Maybe the first two fit together somehow and they not only have to drive the cattle or whatever it is, they need to steal the ship to get the critters across a sea or down river. Are these things both for the same client or different clients?
Once I get back to writing adventures this is what I plan to experiment with.