One Direction’s Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, And Zayn Malik Go Through The Creative Process To Create Solo Albums

As One Direction members create solo albums, each of them is going through the creative process both alone and in depth for the first time during their hiatus. Each band member is in a different stage and has a different style of creativity than the others. According to the Small Business Chronicle, there are five steps to the creative process: Preparation, Incubation, Illumination, Evaluation, and Implementation.

One Direction’s Niall Horan is in the early stages of the creative process. Niall signed a recording contract in July and has not yet settled into a recording studio. This means that he is within the first two stages and is waiting for the third.

In the first stage, Niall Horan creates goals, organizes his thoughts and brainstorms for ideas. In the second stage, Horan simply contemplates and goes about doing other things while mulling thoughts over, while waiting for that lightbulb over the head moment of illumination, when thoughts come together into an idea.

One Direction’s Liam Payne has apparently passed those first three stages, though he may have to revisit them for each song or part of a song. The steps don’t always have to go in the same direction or order. Revisiting the steps is usually necessary. Liam is currently Evaluating and Implementing his ideas in a music studio. Evaluation, in this case, involves deciding which songs are worth recording and later deciding which of the recorded songs are worthy of being on the album.

Zayn Malik recorded a lot more songs than he needed so that he could choose the best ones and the ones that fit together most smoothly for the album. Now Zayn is in the recording studio again. Perhaps Malik will revisit those rejected songs and evaluate new ones for recording. Implementation is simply performing and recording a song once it is written. Often the song will be recorded several times because of continuing evaluation, as each take is judged.

One Direction by Carlos Alvarez c
One Direction [Image by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images]

One Direction’s creative process was very streamlined in the past and very controlled by outside influences. They really had a narrow pattern to follow, but now they are free to explore new ideas.

Harry Styles and Zayn Malik are especially enjoying this exploratory process of music writing. Liam seemed to fall into the implementation stage very quickly, but that is fine too. Each artist creates in a unique and individual way within the five steps.

Niall Horan seems to be spending a lot of time in the Incubation process. He is allowing his ideas to grow out in all directions based on experiences he is having, and utilizing his subconscious processes while doing other things. That is a huge part of the creative process that annoys people who are not accustomed to that way of doing things. It seems like Niall is goofing off, but really he is just incubating his thoughts until they form into concrete plans and ideas. This can happen quite suddenly and then he will be in the studio.

Niall Horan by David Cannon c
Niall Horan [Image by David Cannon/Getty Images]

Harry Styles has spent a very long time in the Preparation process which is probably interspersed with the Incubation process. Harry did a lot of research before diving into the creation of his album. Styles talked to a variety of mentors and peers. He considered incorporating different musical styles and created goals for himself.


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For Harry Styles, Evaluation is going to amount to judging not only each song but which styles to incorporate as he slowly reaches Illumination of the project as a whole. Styles creative process has been the most complex and obviously focused on the planning and evaluating stages.

One Direction members will revisit the steps as often as necessary to shape their music to its best possible form. Often in the creative process, there are a lot of moments of illumination, scattered within all the other steps, as an artist finds a new direction to take their work.

One Direction’s Liam Payne may complete one song, only to start all over with the next song, trying to conceptualize exactly what his goals are for that individual song, and making it fit with the other songs on the album. As he Implements, he is also evaluating, and if necessary going back to the preparatory steps of brainstorming. He may even have to research, in other words, ask people questions or look for information in order to help the song sound exactly the way he wants.

As One Direction’s Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik work use the creative process they adapt it to fit their unique needs.

[Featured Image by Rick Kern/Getty Images]