Recently, instrumental nanoindentation has been widely applied to detect time-dependent plastic deformation or creep behavior in numerous materials, particularly thin films and heterogeneous materials. However, deformation mechanism at nanoindentation holding stage has not been well revealed hitherto. In the current work, nanoindentation holding tests with high loads were performed on a brittle LiTaO3 single crystal. The surface morphologies of residual impressions with various holding times were investigated. It was indicated that generation of secondary cracks and propagation of both main and secondary cracks were the dominating mechanism for time-dependent plastic deformation at the initial holding stage, and the density and length of cracks were invariable at the steady-state holding stage, which suggested a nonlocalized plastic deformation beneath the indenter. It could be concluded that time-dependent plastic deformation of brittle ceramic under nanoindentation is composed of instant cracking as the continuation of loading sequence and homogeneous creep flow by high shear-compression stress at room temperature.