I want to fit my data to a negative binomial regression model. The dependent variable Y is count data with many 0's and the independent variable X is continuous. For this, I want to check if the variables are linearly related using a simple scatterplot. Because of the log-link in the nb-model, I'm assuming that I have to plot the natural log of Y with X, but the natural log of 0 is -infinity. Some blog posts advised to add +1 to the count variable, but others argue against it. However, they were talking about transforming variables and not about checking linearity for a nb-model.
Is it safe to add +1 to the count variable for the plot only, or do I then plot something different from what I actually want to plot?
I'm using R, but my question should be applicable to other software, too.