RPF, send us a shot of your rig so we can understand more of your plight
Generally, a small 'HOT' fire is how to go,start however you do it, and bring the IT of the cooker up to your working temp. and let it stabilize. Now, watch your thermometers for a drop in temp of 10*F or so; adjust your inlet to open wider, giving more air to the fire. Add a piece of wood and it should catch almost immediately.Then after a few minutes , you will see the temp. rise again to your cook point.
If you are using rather large pieces of the wood , you should pare them down to a more practical size;2"X2"X8" or so. The theory is that you have a larger surface area to catch and blaze.There is the secret-fast ignition= less smoke and your meat will have no bitter Creosote taste or color(black).It takes a lot more Butt time to watch the ups and downs,but to me-that is part of the fun sitting, talking, poking the fire and just hanging with friends. That's my idea of a good time;good Friends, good drinks and good times
I hope this helps you and always remember to,