You are correct about the "stick burner."
Many folks burn wood exclusively, and yes, it is possible to over-smoke the meat if the cook is of sufficient duration. The secret is to have the wood burning cleanly. This can be accomplished by several means, such as using smaller diameter "splits" of wood, which will catch fire and start burning faster than the telephone pole-sized pieces. Sometimes it can be a pretty groovy thing to leave the fire box door open until the added splits super-heat past the smolder stage and begin to burn cleanly. You will know you have clean burning wood because the Fire Dept will cancel the call, the heavy white smoke will subside, things will start to smell good again, and the crackle of a nice fire will emanate from the fire box. Although this can take a few minutes, the cooking chamber shouldn't lose too much heat, and, it will recover anyway.
It can also be helpful to place the next intended splits on the top of the closed firebox, while it is heating away, so that they will become thoroughly warmed, which can vastly reduce the time they will need to push through the "smolder"" stage and into the "hell fire" stage when they are added to the fire. This will allow you to get clean-burning wood close the fire box door sooner, and get back to cooking and drinking.
Some people go so far as to create a burn pile near the smoker, burn their wood down to coals in this pile, and shovel a load of coals into the smoker's fire box, as required to maintain the desired level of heat.
Some woods are indeed stronger than others and these species can most-definitely cause over-smoking sooner than using the milder varieties. The main thing is to keep from getting too much smoke, however that needs to be achieved: shorter cooks, smaller splits,an open fire box door during the stinky- smolder stage of freshly added wood, shoveling coals, etc. Since the "shorter cooks" part doesn't usually apply to low-and-slow cooking, some means must be utilized. These are only a few of many ways to help one have cooking success.
People have as many opinions towards charcoal as they have towards beer. However, genuine hardwood lump charcoal can be hard to beat.
Whether one adds unlit lump to the fire can depend on various factors, such as how hot it the fire, and has it died down too much. Pouring unlit lump on a too-small fire can cause some of that stinky smoke as it takes a bit for it to really get going. An easy way around this is to just light another chimney full of lump ten-fifteen minutes before it is needed, and just dump fully-ignited lump into the fire box.
One major principle to adhere to is that you never want heavy, billowing, stinky smoke passing over your food for an extended time, however you choose to avoid having this condition. Another inviolate principle is to make sure you have fun with this whole thing. Good luck, and hopefully you will find this a little bit helpful.