This thread is very informative. I use lump charcoal and wood chunks. Essentially what I've been doing is make a good layer of lump across the charcoal grate leaving about two inches along the perimeter. Then, form a horizontal pile about the length of the grill chamber spreading out the center of it forming a nest for the hot coals from the chimney going. A little more charcoal on top of that waiting for about 35 min. till I get a clean burn with glowing coals before beginning.
I have not incorporated use of briquettes at all in the past but I like the layering idea. Usually my method works good though depending on wind sometimes that parlays into portions of the lump burning whereas others go out. I've pretty much resolved the issue either by directly facing the wind closing the vents some or if it's really windy, turning the cooker completely around opposite direction. Sometimes I'll need to crack open the door of the grill chamber about an 1/8" using a thin piece of iron to get blue smoke going consistent.
I'm using a whole lot less charcoal than I used to but I'm still having issues with uniform burning. I think the layering technique with using some briquettes may be advantageous particularly for the longer cooks such as brisket. Otherwise, it isn't as much an issue.
Also, I would be interested in knowing if anyone had any suggestions about adding more hot coals to a cooker during a cook. What I've been doing is just adding more chimneys of hot coals. And, I'm thinking about making a makeshift chimney that's larger because I'd like to add more at times. If the coals burn more uniform, that should somewhat remedy what I sometimes experience to a degree.